Two years after major road washout, Inchelium Highway still unusable

Two years after major road washout, Inchelium Highway still unusable
Copyright 2019 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior permission.
Two years later, the Inchelium Highway is still unusable. 

In April 2017, Ferry County was plagued by road washouts. A large portion of the Inchelium Highway collapsed as a result, blocking the main access into town.

Now, two years later, the highway still remains unusable. A photo taken Tuesday showed the uneven road still blocked off with signs. A separate access road was set up to allow residents access into the town.

2 years later, this is still what Inchelium Highway looks like just a few miles north of the reservation. The highway washed out two years ago in April and nothing has changed. But construction is expected to begin this summer. #kxly

— Drew Reeves (@DrewReevesKXLY) April 23, 2019

For the people who drive the highway every day, seeing the lack of progress on the road elicits the same reaction.

“Disgust, it should not be like this,” said Gina Lawrence.

“Kind of disgusted because it’s not done yet,” said Jeff Holm.

Residents said the access road is not sufficient, either. They said it is too narrow and too difficult to travel when the weather is poor.

“When they go and shut the ferry down and when it’s raining pretty heavy, and you got all the mud to go through and heavy traffic and mud, this has got a lot of ruts,” said Holm.

Lawrence said she often needs medical attention because of her back and dreads taking the access road.

“It’s really hard, it’s frustraing,” said Lawrence. “I, myself, have a lot of health issues and I, more than once, have had to come across in an ambulance on that access road, and it’s painful.”

RELATED: Inchelium residents could be left stranded

The good news, though, is that relief is coming.

“We got the project in July of last year, we’ve been going through design and we’re about 95% designed right now,” said engineer Steve Nelson.

So, why did it take so long? Century West, the engingeering firm behind this project, said federal money is being used to pay for the project, so the project moves a bit slower.

“So, there’s quite a few boxes we have to check. One of those and it’s the one we’re on right now, is the right way of clearance and easements,” said Nelson.

Construction should be just a few months away.

Catch up on the day’s news and look ahead to tomorrow by signing up for the Daily Local email newsletter from KXLY4. Headlines, events, and staff picks every weeknight at 8 p.m. Sign up HERE to get your news on the D.L.