As melting snow and ice recede, Franklin County is turning its attention to reopening closed roads and assessing extensive damage caused to rapidly melting ice and snow.
The county closed more than 40 stretches of threatened pavement as flood waters eroded road beds and in some cases caused washouts that put the public and property at risk.
By Monday, it had reopened nearly a dozen stretches. But it could be weeks or even months before the worst of the damage is repaired and all roads reopen. County officials have said damage will top $2 million.
Road restrictions remain in place for many roads in the county’s agricultural north end. A map and current list is posted online.
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The Franklin County commissioners declared a state of emergency on Presidents Day as conditions deteriorated. By Feb. 21, 45 stretches of road were closed. Some closures aimed to prevent further damage under the weight of vehicles. Some were closed to keep traffic away from spots where pavement washed away.
Glade North Road and related Franklin County roads and the Connell area suffered some of the heaviest damage and could take weeks to reopen.
By Friday, the public works department reopened stretches of Horseshoe, Joy, Hoover, Lone Star, Largent, Delaney, McCallum and Essenpreis roads.
Many roads remain closed or under weight restrictions, and the county still is not issuing special haul permits unless severe circumstances warrant it.
Matt Mahoney, public works director, said it will take longer to reopen roads with major damage, including Glade North Road, Ironwood, near Merrill’s Corner, and Lind, near Connell.
The Lind-Warden highway has a gaping section missing from when a culvert washed out. Glade and Ironwood are undergoing structural analysis.
Keith Johnson, Franklin County administrator, said the next step is for engineers to assess the damage and formulate a plan of repair. He said the county hopes to have most major roads reopened by the end of March, though he cautioned that heavily damaged stretches could be closed into early May.
The county will pay for repairs from reserves, the county road fund and insurance.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee said there have been no requests yet to declare a regional emergency because of flooding in Eastern Washington.