Saturated soil caused washout that closed Hwy. 12

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- DOT shut down a 45-mile stretch of the road after a washout Tuesday.

It's a stretch of Highway 12 that's literally on edge. And it's making life miserable for drivers.

"Some people can't make that you know," said Keane Wesselius. "You have deadlines to meet."

Soil saturated by heavy rain collapsed near milepost 154 on Highway 12.

"After we really got there and flagged off the area, we still saw movement," said WSDOT Regional Administrator Don Whitehouse. "We had a 10-foot section fail even after we were starting to watch it."

Crews are currently assessing the damage. DOT told KIMA the washout is 120 feet wide and 800 feet deep.

DOT is applying for emergency funding to stabilize the highway. Engineers hope to open one lane of traffic in the fragile area that would alternate in both directions. However, crews need to test it first to make sure it's safe. They don't know how long that will take.

"How severe is this washout?" KIMA asked.

"Well, the fix here is very difficult," said Don.

Engineers don't know what the permanent answer will be. One possibility is building a new wall. That could take a month to build.

"They certainly could not have helped what happened to the roadway and I think they were trying to best keep everyone safe and give us the information we needed," said Carol Kerrigan.

"You're going to be burning a lot more gas so it's going to be a lot more money down the drain," said Keane.

Transportation officials are working to have more information Wednesday on the possibility of a partial reopening.