Cowlitz County commissioners on Tuesday morning declared an emergency to clean up the slide that has blocked Kalama River Road for nearly a week, but it will take two or three weeks to clear the debris.

Declaring an emergency allowed the county to skip the public bidding process and agree on a $150,000 contract with Advanced Excavating Specialists LLC of Longview to remove the debris as quickly as possible.

Trees, earth and vegetation blocked Kalama River Road at milepost 6.8 on March 15. The mass is about 200 feet wide and 12 feet thick, according to county public works officials. Officials warned that there’s a risk for more slides as more rain has been forecast in the region.

“There is a lot of material that needs to be removed, and our crew and equipment is not set up for this type of work,” Susan Eugenis, assistant county engineer, said at the commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Eugenis said she hopes the work can get started Wednesday. She estimated that it would take the contractor two to three weeks to remove the debris and repair 200 feet of guardrail. Some road repair may also be necessary.

The blockage has forced residents east of the slide to detour on Weyerhaeuser Co. logging roads, but the detour adds 15 to 20 miles to a one-way trip to Kalama or any point north of the Kalama River Road exit.

The county road fund will pay the cost of the removal. Contact Daily News reporter Hayat Norimine at 360-577-7828

Contact Daily News reporter Hayat Norimine at 360-577-7828

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