I-5 still closed in Washington; detour more than doubles distance

| 12/6/2007

State highway officials in Washington are now saying it could be this weekend or even later before a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 can be reopened.

The Associated Press reported that as floodwaters receded on Wednesday, Dec. 5, highway crews discovered areas where the pavement and subsurface were badly damaged. As of Wednesday, about a mile of the interstate still remained under water.

I-5 was closed south of Olympia on Monday, forcing about 54,000 vehicles to use detours each day.

Many truckers who would normally go straight from Seattle down to Portland and points south are now being detoured hundreds of miles east – through Yakima – then back west on I-84.

Regina Pena was running the fuel desk at the Gearjammer truck stop in Yakima, WA, Thursday morning and she was very busy with customers when “Land Line Now” reporter Reed Black called to ask her if the detoured traffic was having an impact on business.

“We’ve been really, really busy,” she said with the sound of her cash register and the bustle of customers clearly coming through on the phone line.

And despite a short period Wednesday morning when supplies ran low, Regina said Gearjammer’s has plenty of fuel.

The Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper reported that one trucker, Chuck Thomas, who usually delivers milk between the Seattle suburb of Auburn and Portland to the south, is now driving 340 miles instead of his usual 160-mile route because of the detour.

– By Land Line staff