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State highway workers Thursday started clearing a slide blocking Spirit Lake Memorial Highway near Kid Valley, but the road east of the slide is likely to remain closed until early next week, Washington Department of Transportation officials said.

Six large trees had to be removed Thursday before crews could begin clearing mud and soil from the steep slope. In addition, a series of springs that likely contributed to the slide need to be diverted, said Steve Canter, regional maintenance manager for the agency.

Officials could give no more specific date to reopening the highways.

"There are things that can't be predicted, but we're hoping for early next week," said WSDOT spokesman Alissa Bateman said.

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Crews will work Thursday, Friday and through the weekend to clean the area.

The SR 504 slide occurred Monday morning and has cut off access to the U.S. Forest Service's Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center and Cowlitz County's visitor center at Hoffstadt Bluffs. Engineers had to evaluate the slope before clearing work could begin to make sure cleanup crews and the public would not be put at risk, Bateman said.

The handful of people who live east of the slide have had to use logging roads to detour around the blockage.

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