Mudslide on SR 18 in Federal Way causes traffic woes

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — A stretch of westbound State Route 18 was closed in Federal Way after trees and mud burst through a fence and onto the road early Wednesday, causing traffic to back up into Auburn.

Two lanes have since reopened.

The Washington State Department of Transportation reported the mudslide at 12:05 a.m.

The westbound lanes of the highway were closed between State Route 167/Peasley Canyon and Weyerhaeuser Way. One of the two left lanes reopened shortly before 11 a.m.

The onramps from both directions of SR 167 and the West Valley Highway were also closed, but reopened shortly before 12 p.m.

After working to clear debris all day, crews were able to open the second left lane of westbound SR 18 around 3:45 p.m.

The right lane remains closed on westbound SR 18 at Peasley Canyon as of 4 p.m.

WSDOT sent geotechnical engineers to assess the stability of the soil around 9 a.m.

Some drivers in Auburn were so fed up with the congestion that they ignored the closure Wednesday morning.

Some drivers made U-turns over a median and then drove onto the westbound onramp.

A mudslide happened in the same place in January 2010. Another happened in the Tiger Mountain area of SR 18 in January 2020.

After record rainfall saturated the region Monday, there were 10 to 12 mudslides in King County alone, according to Brendan McCluskey, director of King County Emergency Management.

In Renton, a chunk of land collapsed in a nearby backyard taking some blackberry bushes with it.

“I’m just shocked because I’ve never seen that, and I’ve lived here for about 12 years,” said homeowner Jen Boctor.

In Auburn, a mudslide is blocking 105th Place Southeast between Lea Hill Road and Southeast 323rd Street. Cleanup was set to start Wednesday morning.