EVERETT, Wash. -- April’s had a rainy start, and all the rain is causing the earth to move and slide.
Western Washington is seeing one of the worst slide seasons in nearly 100 years. This season, there’s been 200 landslides on railroad property; 100 of those were significant slides. Fifty-six were blocking slides that suspended train service, compared to only four blocking slides the year before.
At KING 5’s request, geologists at the Department of Natural Resources put a map of rain totals of the region. The area in purple indicates rain totals 130 percent above normal, right on Everett and Mukilteo.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe is closer to a decision on how to cope. The railroad company said it wants to fix six sites over eight miles where landslides from bluffs, some as high as 200 feet over the tracks, have hit the tracks. On Sunday, one slide even derailed an Amtrak train.
“There’s going to be $16 million available, and we’re going to be designing a plan,” said Gus Melonas with BNSF.
He says the railroad has spent millions already on cleanup and fixes. The 16 million in additional dollars will come from the federal government, as it protects publicly-owned Amtrak and Sounder passenger trains. It will be like another project done a few years ago in North Seattle to help with drainage.
“We also put up catchment walls, retaining walls and it’s under review by engineering right now,” said Melonas.
But does modifying these slopes create any anxiety for homeowners? Resident Lanny Parker isn’t worried.
“Any kind of improvement they can make is welcome, naturally,” said Parker.
The railroad isn’t ready to say exactly where the six most concerning slide zones are. But $16 million in federal dollars is lined up for those repairs, because much of that will protect the publicly –owned passenger trains that use the tracks.