Stranded truckers have friends in Washington state

| 1/9/2009

There haven’t been many bright spots in Washington state as flooding, avalanches and mudslides caused by a large quantity of melting snow continue to play havoc with travel. Commerce was at a standstill for a third day on Friday, Jan. 9, but some major routes including Interstate 5 and the Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 were reopened at midday.

One bright spot in the whole mess has been the kindness of people including truckers who have offered help to those who may be stranded far from home.

OOIDA members Sherrie and Bob Bond live on a farm outside of Chehalis, WA. Late Thursday, Jan. 8, the Bonds said they watched helplessly as trucks tried to route around flooded roads in the area and then were trapped on their two-lane road near their house.

“Picture those poor guys creeping past on a two-way country road, partially flooded, that leads to nowhere,” Sherrie Bond wrote in an e-mail to Land Line. “I don’t know where these guys will end up.”

She said the road they live on is between two major roadways – she refers to her road as the crossbar in the letter H – that are both under water.

Bond said they were going to offer the truckers a parking spot for the night if they headed back their way.

“I feel so bad for them,” she said. “Not only are loggers not working, but highway trucks in general cannot get their shipments through Washington.”

Bond told Land Line on Friday that problems got worse before they got better. She saw more than six miles of trucks lined up on the freeway waiting for the floods to clear. To make matters worse, truckers were starting to run out of food and fuel prices jumped more than 30 cents per gallon overnight.

Clark County officials offered truck parking at the Clark County Fairgrounds until the I-5 reopened. Officials were worried on Friday that I-5 wouldn’t reopen until Monday.

A few truck stops along I-5 were reporting “near full” parking lots prior to the reopening, but for the most part it was business as usual.

OOIDA member Jon Amerman of White Hall, MT, was hauling a 53-foot reefer on Wednesday, Jan. 7, south of Olympia when he heard that routes were closed to the south and east. He was held up in the area until U.S. 2 opened late Thursday heading east.

“The truck stops were all full and the off ramps and on ramps were all full of trucks,” Amerman told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio.

“There’s not much to do. I guess some of the guys found a bar and some other guys sat around. I kind of stayed in my truck and cleaned my truck, caught up on my paperwork and sleep.”

In an effort to keep U.S. 2 moving, WSDOT officials reiterated that chains are required for trucks over 10,000 pounds moving through mountain passes.

Westbound vehicles on another highway, U.S. 12, were being held at Naches. Local traffic was permitted between Naches and Packwood, officials said.

“U.S. 12 is not a viable east-west route at this time due to flooding at Randle (mile marker 116) and a large washout near Glenoma (mile marker 108),” WSDOT officials stated.

As for the I-5 and the Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, Amerman remembers a couple of flooding incidents in recent years. Amerman suggests that more can be done to prevent a flooded roadway.

“You would think that sometime they would get a clue and raise that chunk of highway 10-12 feet and maybe they wouldn’t have trucks backed up and cutting off freight out of Seattle which is a major port on the West Coast,” he said.

“If they’d quit spending our highway dollars on everything else, maybe we could get a good highway.”

– By Land Line staff writers David Tanner, Clarissa Kell-Holland and Reed Black.