Traffic finally slowly getting north on I-5 after long delays - KPTV - FOX 12

Traffic finally slowly getting north on I-5 after long delays

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What started as a small mudslide spilling on to Interstate 5 evolved into a much bigger and dangerous situation Wednesday.

Washington State Department of Transportation crews said so much debris was falling off of the hillside near Woodland Wednesday night that it wasn't even safe for them to be there, leading to the shut down the highway to all northbound drivers.

The shutdown turned I-5 into a parking lot, with the hundreds of motorists like Harold Sessions trying to drive north winding up stuck in a mess for hours.

“One of the police men here asked us where we lived, and we said Kelso, and he said, ‘The only way you’re going to get to Kelso is to go to Yakima and come back,’” he said.

Since that detour seemed a bit much, Sessions and his wife waited things out at Woodland High School.

Classes were canceled Thursday because of the debris slide, so the school opened up its doors to all drivers who found themselves trapped in Woodland.

“Everybody here at the school has been real nice, and McDonalds has brought food up, and Walmart has brought food, and Safeway, so they have got everything you could imagine.”

In the light of the day WSDOT geotechnical engineers determined it was safe to begin clearing debris from the hillside near milepost 22.

Crews cut down some 40 trees from the slope to prevent them from also falling onto the freeway and worked to clear car-sized boulders from the northbound lane.

Washington governor Jay Inslee came out to assess the situation first hand.

”It’s pretty impressive how this rock fractured and came down,” he said. “It reminds you Mother Nature bats last and that's why we’ve got to be safe.”

WSDOT was able to open one northbound lane at 6:00 p.m., as crews will keep working through the night to clear the roadway, which they note likely won’t reopen until Sunday.

Around 9:10 p.m., WSDOT said a second lane of traffic is now open.

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