WASHOUGAL — Rachel Grice said she suspects she didn’t hear the runaway dump truck hurtling down a hillside past her house last week because its brakes weren’t working. She did, however, hear the emergency vehicles responding to its crash.
Grice, who lives with her family outside of Washougal, said she can hear dump trucks shift gears each morning around 6:45 a.m. as they begin their work days hauling gravel from a nearby mine. She said she can hear the trucks brake loudly as they make their way down the hill carrying their loads.
“It’s a high-pitch screech all the way down,” she said. “I was surprised that I never heard any screeching or honking, ’cause normally we hear all the trucks’ brakes going down.”
The truck, unable to stop, sped down the hill at more than 60 mph and crashed into a rail line owned by BNSF Railway last Thursday. It was later reported that the truck’s brakes had failed.
Ever since activity ramped up late last year at the Zimmerly gravel pit, located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, neighbors have complained about the increase in noise and truck traffic. Now, residents and conservation group Friends of the Columbia Gorge say truck traffic has increased as a final decision on the mining’s legality is expected in coming weeks.