Private community may partner with public utility to get around mudslide

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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INDEX, Wash. - For two months, up to 100 residents of Mt. Index Riversites have had to use all-terrain vehicles to get to their homes, or hike around a massive mudslide.

 “It’s getting pretty frustrating, real frustrating,” homeowner Earl Van Buskirk said.

The slide destroyed the main road and mowed down several buildings.   When you're on foot, Ronald Sorkness said you think twice about the weight of the groceries you're packing in.

“You change your whole diet, because you don’t want to carry a gallon of milk,” Sorkness.

Now a solution may be in sight.  The community club's board has approved a cost sharing agreement with the Snohomish Public Utility District. 

The district is willing to spend up to $250,000 to build a bridge farther up the Skykomish River, one that would connect the cutoff portion of the neighborhood with Highway 2.  

“If we put up half the money, they’ll put up half the money,” Van Buskirk said.

The PUD also needs access to the neighborhood, because it's looking into the feasibility of building a hydropower project next to Sunset Falls and can't get to the area it needs to study.

 “I think it’s a very good deal for the community and the PUD,”   said Van Buskirk.

The deal isn't done yet.  The cost sharing agreement needs the approval of the district’s board.  It will be presented to board members on Tuesday. 

If, for some reason,  the PUD Board doesn't like the plan, Mt. Index Riversites will have to find a way to build the bridge by itself, even if it does cost $500,000.

Van Buskirk said right now there’s no way for police or fire vehicles to get into the upper neighborhood, or home delivery trucks.  There is no way to drive a car around the slide.