FOLLOWUP: Closer look at Highland Park Way slide, as cleanup and closure continue

2:38 PM: More than 25 hours after a slide took out trees and power lines, closing the Highland Park Way hill and cutting power to 3,200 homes and businesses, the cleanup continues and the road remains closed. We’ve received photos and an update from SDOT.

SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB that crews from other city departments are assisting – including Seattle City Light and Parks and Recreation: “City crews are still working to clear debris and perform erosion control. There is still a lot of debris, and the hillside is muddy and destabilized. We understand that this is an important detour route for the West Seattle Bridge closure and are working hard to reopen some lanes as soon as it is safe to do so.”

No ETA for reopening all or part of the hill, though, Bergerson says. (The power outage was resolved within 8 1/2 hours, as noted in our Friday updates.) A slide in 2017 closed the same stretch of road for more than two days.

8:20 PM: Update from SDOT via Twitter:

10:24 PM: Reopened.

60 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Closer look at Highland Park Way slide, as cleanup and closure continue"

  • David johansson January 8, 2022 (3:11 pm)

    I’m wondering if the zigzag line going down the pavement or the asphalt in the last photo is a new development after the landslide or if it’s been there. it just seems sort of new to me. I drive that every day and I usually notice things like roadways that have split apart. 

    • Rkarlow January 8, 2022 (4:18 pm)

      I believe the road was torn up much more after the deep freeze over the holidays. I noticed that everywhere and especially on bus lines and truck routes. :-(

    • John Smith January 8, 2022 (4:20 pm)

      David, it looks to me as though that’s a crack in the asphalt that was already sealed with crack sealant (a black tar-like substance). Sidenote: I’m pretty sure there is concrete under the asphalt, in case anyone was wondering.

  • trickycoolj January 8, 2022 (3:13 pm)

    So the 2 rows of concrete Lego bricks from 2017 totally worked. 🙄 What’s their plan on making sure our commute is safe in wet weather? Especially those of us that were already commuting south before the bridge closure. I’m not super keen on being swept off the road or buried by mud. 

    • Vbmart January 8, 2022 (5:16 pm)

      It’s not in *exactly* the same spot. The eco blocks installed previously are still there. This slide is a tiny bit further down the hill. 

    • Foop January 8, 2022 (6:12 pm)

      You’re welcome to try the bus if driving is too unsafe.

      • trickycoolj January 8, 2022 (9:07 pm)

        Cool thanks but the bus doesn’t go to my workplace nor does it arrive early enough. But thanks for the suggestion, maybe let the powers that be at Metro and Sound Transit know that people work in Georgetown and Sodo well before 7am. 

  • John January 8, 2022 (3:20 pm)

    Is anyone surprised by the inevitable on this now premier arterial to West Seattle?  This is the city’s own forest, and responsibility.  Their conditions and dangerous trees are well known.  The lack of forest management is deplorable.   Once again, there is no developer to point a finger at as our hillsides are young and will continue to slide.

    • Vbmart January 8, 2022 (5:25 pm)

      This area was sliding long before it was developed by anyone. You can see evidence of it on old topographic maps.  Why does everyone act like this is a new thing? Forest management wouldn’t have stopped the slide either. It’s a steep slope on the edge of a river valley. Part of the reason it is a green belt is because it is a steep slide zone.  We just had lots of snow and a very large amount of rainfall in a short amount of time. The soil is saturated. Stop acting surprised. The sky is not falling. 

  • Roms January 8, 2022 (3:31 pm)

    SDOT twitted this: “UPDATE: There’s still a lot of debris, & the hillside is muddy & destabilized. @SeattleDOT, @SEACityLight, & @SeattleParks are still working to clear debris & perform erosion control. It may take several days before it is safe to fully reopen all lanes.“

  • R January 8, 2022 (3:51 pm)

    Seattle has all of a sudden found itself to be a big city, with big city problems, but without any of the benefits a big city usually begets (like incredible public transport). It’s becoming less and less compelling to live out here, to be honest. 

    • WSB January 8, 2022 (4:16 pm)

      This area has been landslide-prone for a very long time.

      • R January 8, 2022 (4:20 pm)

        I’m aware. 

    • Lucy January 8, 2022 (5:01 pm)

      Sorry to see you go.  

      • Synodicat January 8, 2022 (5:56 pm)

        I moved two months ago, Best thing I ever did. I don’t miss the local cattiness either.

        • MyThruppence January 9, 2022 (6:57 am)

          HaHa…after a whole two months being gone you have already determined it was the best thing you ever did in your entire life?? Greater than who you chose to marry, or deciding to have children, or give up smoking or alcohol? Also, where is this utopia where the locals are never catty? You people are impossible to please, or even placate. Bye Felicia.

  • KD January 8, 2022 (4:01 pm)

    Seriously, City traffic department should’ve ALLOWED free use of the lower West Seattle Bridge until this crisis is over. It’s been backed up solid traffic here in Highland Park, Roxbury and surrounding as we’re already hit with the WSBridge detoured traffic, now the detours are detoured and jammed, crammed and funneled even more! C’mon ‘higher-ups’ … get with it!! 😡

    • Zipda January 8, 2022 (4:28 pm)

      Of course. Only makes sense to open the lower bridge to all for now. Traffic is a mess.

    • My two cents January 8, 2022 (4:41 pm)

      @kd it would not have made a noticeable impact with the low bridge access; not enough capacity to negate the current situation.

    • CAM January 9, 2022 (6:54 pm)

      I took an Uber home through that intersection at 7 pm on Friday and there was zero traffic in any direction. Seems like those traffic delays may not have been so constant. 

  • Galen McGee January 8, 2022 (4:15 pm)

    Not a whole lot for the city to do here. The trees are a stabilizing force so I’m not sure what forest management can do. Limiting water infiltration from above is costly. I’m sure the city has done the calculation. Spend a couple hundred thousand every 2 to 5 years to clean up a slide. Or millions to try and stop it – if that would work. 

    • Vbmart January 8, 2022 (5:27 pm)

      Thank you. Exactly what I wanted to say. 

    • Roms January 8, 2022 (6:31 pm)

      They’re not. Ground cover is. In the local climate, trees create shade which prevents ground cover to fully establish. The soil is then mostly bare which allows water to erode it when going downhill.

  • Rkarlow January 8, 2022 (4:19 pm)

    Was anyone hurt?

  • HoldenOn January 8, 2022 (4:48 pm)

    Alder trees are NW natives. Salmon over an Alder fire is the finest preparation in my opinion.  However, they grow like weeds. During our crazy unusual hot summer two of my Alder trees just plain fell over. I agree with many of the posts. It’s time we have arborist-quality managers of the trees that line our walking trails, threaten powerlines and vital roadways.  We love our emerald green Seattle, but some of our trees grow too tall for their own good. It’s time we have a sane policy.

    • Vbmart January 8, 2022 (5:36 pm)

      Most of the hillside is big leaf and vine maple (also a NW native), not alder. Are you proposing to replant an entire green belt?! With what? Native red alder, and other native trees do act as slope stabilizers. Sometimes even the most valiant root system can’t overcome gravity and supersaturated soils. 

      • datamuse January 8, 2022 (7:43 pm)

        Replantings of conifers has taken place elsewhere in the greenbelt–that’s pretty much what Nature Consortium (which I used to volunteer with) does. They haven’t worked on this slope so far as I’m aware, though. And it’s pretty steep–with, as you note, a lot of water input.

    • Joe Z January 8, 2022 (5:52 pm)

      Alders and Bigleaf Maple are there because we cut down all of the original conifers that were holding back the slope and didn’t bother to replant them. You reap what you sow, even if it’s 150 years later. 

  • WSOwl January 8, 2022 (4:54 pm)

    I blame the incompetent Harrell administration!

    • MyThruppence January 9, 2022 (7:07 am)

      LOL. +1 for the Owl in the back…..

  • Jort January 8, 2022 (5:01 pm)

    For those who are concerned about the “traffic” impacts, I strongly recommend you bike or ride a bus rather than get angry and drive. You’ll be happier and you’ll be doing your part to heal our planet. 

    • Anne January 9, 2022 (7:13 am)

      Oh baloney. 

  • Craig January 8, 2022 (5:12 pm)


  • JoAnn Brush January 8, 2022 (5:21 pm)

    Open the lower bridge!  BUT that would make sense, and you are dealing with SDOT! so no such luck!

  • RDD January 8, 2022 (6:38 pm)

    Can everyone please stop complaining about low bridge access?  It’s restricted so that emergency vehicles don’t get stuck here, where we have no hospital, let alone a trauma center.  It is not worth someone dying in an ambulance trying to get across a bridge that’s now backed up like all the other ways out of WS, just to make your commute less irritating.  Stop asking for this to become a thing.

    • alki_2008 January 9, 2022 (6:40 pm)

      If emergency vehicles were the only reason, then why are motorcycles and motor scooters prohibited?  Do you think a 2-foot wide motor scooter (like a Vespa) that fits in the narrow shoulder space would impede an emergency vehicle on the low bridge?

    • Resident January 10, 2022 (9:47 am)

      Emergency vehicles have lights and sirens that prompt people to move when there’s an emergency. They closed the lower bridge because of the influence of the port and to keep freight and busses moving. Emergency vehicles have nothing to do with it. 

  • Judy January 8, 2022 (6:51 pm)

    Great photo, Craig.  Year?  

    • Craig January 8, 2022 (8:09 pm)

      I was told (by Alan Roberson ?) that this shot of lower Highland Park Way was from the 30’s.  Love to know more about the photo and what was happening- if the debris behind the pilings is related to the 1912 slide, and or road constructions or maybe a latter slide?   I think the  sidewalk in the foreground is the same stretch of sidewalk unearthed last year by HPAC/WSBC and also believe that the cracks in the resurrected sidewalk telegraph the damage from the pilings. 

  • JG January 8, 2022 (7:02 pm)

    Tax Seattle’s rich and use the funds to fix our roads and bridges, manage our forested areas, and more! 

    • Roms January 8, 2022 (8:27 pm)

      There’s already a lot of money available to the city. First, let’s use it better and achieve results. Throwing more money is not necessarily the one way to solve all problems.

      • WS Res January 8, 2022 (11:30 pm)

        More money REALLY helps, though.

    • Wseattleite January 8, 2022 (11:11 pm)

      Seattle does not have a revenue problem. 

      • alki_2008 January 9, 2022 (6:41 pm)

        Exactly. The problem is EFFECTIVE spending.

  • 35th is good January 8, 2022 (7:08 pm)

    Lower bridge needs to be clear for emergency vehicles.  Bottom line.

    • David McKay January 8, 2022 (8:05 pm)


      • Jort January 8, 2022 (8:51 pm)

        If the “suffering” is just too much to bear I recommend hanging up the keys and getting on a bus. It’s not hard and everyone can do it. 

        • alki_2008 January 9, 2022 (6:44 pm)

          “everyone can do it” is a very ableist response.

      • RDD January 8, 2022 (9:19 pm)

        …They are opening up Highland Park Way ASAP.  Do you know what “ASAP” stands for?  Do you understand what “possible” means?

        • David McKay January 8, 2022 (11:11 pm)

          No I don’t – maybe you can explain to me smart guy?

          • RDD January 9, 2022 (6:48 am)

            Happy to.  “ASAP” stands for “as soon as possible”.  It is not possible to open up Highland Park Way until the tree and other debris is cleared and the road is made safe for cars again.  SDOT has-from the beginning-been working to clear the debris and make the road safe so they could re-open the road as soon as possible (and they did).

          • Kudos RDD aka Smart Guy January 9, 2022 (12:42 pm)

            Excellent response to an ALL CAPS comment, on top of being called a *smart guy*–you clearly are the smart one.

  • Smoosh January 8, 2022 (9:02 pm)

    I remember when doing Americorps for a year after high school in 1999 working with John Beale doing erosion control and alien invasive plant removal in hopes of preventing stuff like this on that hill. 

  • KD January 8, 2022 (9:09 pm)

    I’ve been wondering (and concerned) for the enclave that lives on the only street that peels off of Highland Park Way midway on the hill (Othello St.).. with the barricades, are they letting you folks come and go easily, or are you being hassled and have to prove you live there? 😬

  • WSB January 8, 2022 (10:24 pm)

    Reopened. Publishing a separate update so nobody misses that news after a day and a half.

  • Leo January 9, 2022 (9:47 am)

    Bikes and rideshares are options.The infrastructure doesn’t appear to be developed for so many cars which we see leads to excessive traffic lines. I drive so much during the week that on the weekends, even in colder conditions, I opt to ride my bike to go out.It sucks but complaining without offering solutions is pointless.

  • Mj January 9, 2022 (2:36 pm)

    Jort – you keep harping for people to get on a bus.  What blankety bus are you talking about?  Not everyone in WS has frequent service or any service at all and SDoT has made it difficult for people to drive to access a bus with restrictions to parking!

  • Mj January 9, 2022 (5:06 pm)

    Jort  – what bus? many areas of WS do not have any or only limited bus service.  

Sorry, comment time is over.