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Aug. 16, 2022

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Pacific Highway west of La Center reopens

Heavy rain, flooding washed out chunks of road in February

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter

Northwest Pacific Highway west of La Center is back open after heavy rainfall and flooding washed out large chunks of the road in February, leaving the way closed for weeks.

The roadway reopened Friday evening, after workers installed a new, larger culvert beneath the road and rebuilt the roadway.

Road crews first spotted a hole in the pavement Feb. 12, and closed the road after finding the roadway, near Northwest Wellman Avenue just outside of La Center, had been washed out, according to Clark County Public Works.

Two days later, the road crumbled further. Sections of pavement collapsed, sending asphalt and concrete into the hole, which grew to about 17 feet deep, and about 24 feet by 20 feet on its sides.

County officials initially feared the road could be closed for months, as it needed to be rebuilt entirely. The damage led to local traffic delays, including an extra 15 minutes of driving for a La Center School District bus route, but county officials said at the time the delays weren’t especially significant.

Workers replaced the damaged 30-inch culvert that was beneath the road with a 13-foot wide arch pipe or squashed pipe culvert.

Ken Price, bridge and culvert manager for Clark County Public Works, said the pipes are made by putting a 10-foot corrugated metal pipe beneath a large press.

Squashing it creates a false bottom, allowing crews to build an artificial stream bed inside, for the sake of improving fish passage.

In addition to installing the new culvert, workers repaved about 200 feet of roadway, Price said.

Price did not have a final tally on the cost of the reconstruction, as the county has yet to count up all the contracting bills for the work.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter

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