Workers began removing a bypass on Spirit Lake Memorial Highway to open flows from Coldwater Creek on Thursday, a critical step for maintaining water movement during harsh winter conditions.
Contractors chipped toward bedrock — taking out asphalt, culverts and guardrail that were installed in July. The Washington Department of Transportation said removing the bypass will protect water flow of the Spirit Lake outlet tunnel during the winter.
The culvert failure is unrelated to the South Coldwater slide in mid-May, where debris barreled over Spirit Lake Memorial Highway near Milepost 49, burying the passage and severely damaging its 85-foot bridge. The road is normally closed from November to late April at Milepost 45.2 to prevent accidents in snowy and icy conditions, but the gate has remained closed since the slew of mud, rocks and water washed over the passage.
No additional work will take place at the slide location until spring.
The Washington Department of Transportation said there is no timeline for a new restorative structure to open access to the Johnston Ridge Observatory on the north side of the mountain.
For more information on the U.S. Forest Service’s facility hours, visit www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/giffordpinchot.