Dean Creek Slide Revisited After the Lane Closures During Last Week's Rains

During the recent rains, the northbound right-hand lane on the Dean Creek slide closed several times.  Southern Humboldt folk are concerned.  Will the slide repair last through this winter? Kim Sallaway, an excellent local photographer who took the photos in this story and has been following the issue, has concerns. He says,

The problem I think I see is that the water is collected in the ditches dug to channel the run off. It has not risen high enough to get to the drain lines, so it is sitting draining as it can, where it can, and adding a lot of weight on the shelf itself.

The drains are amazingly dry so the flow isn’t running down them as hoped. Instead the H2O is leaching where it can. You can see the dry areas above where the seeps have exposed and moved the earth.

The retaining [fiber rolls] are staked and tied in place but the weight of the wet soil and moving rocks easily rip the retaining lines and stakes out of the ground.

The reflectors they installed to do the IRF readings on the slide are laying on their side. Obviously they can’t work. Even the one at highway level across the west side of the road has toppled. I’ve spoke to people who have been working there since the beginning. They are concerned. They used the word failing. I hope they are wrong.

It looks like the 3 inches of rain we got really messed this project up….. there is a lot of wet soil right above it that is pretty impossible to walk on without sinking in it deeply.
What will it be like when the rains begin for real if it is soupy now?

Caltrans however is relatively unconcerned.  They responded to my inquires by stating:
A minor loss of surface material at the Dean Creek slide repair site occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday due to heavy rains. According to Caltrans Resident Engineer Joaquin Rodriguez, the minor loss of surface material does not affect the structural integrity of the recent slide repair. Rodriguez said, “This sloughing of surface fiber rolls, newly planted seed, compost, and small rocks from the face of the buttress pose no permanent or long term lane closure concerns. We are in the final stage of the Dean Creek project and look forward to final striping and any remaining shoulder work to be completed within the next two weeks, weather permitting.”
Caltrans and its contractors preformed a minor miracle getting the road open so quickly.  Now, the proof will be in the pudding–the only way to know how the slide will stand up to Humboldt’s massive rains will be to wait and see.
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UPDATE:  More photos of the slide:
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6 comments

  • “the proof will be in the pudding–”
    Groan…..

  • This slide is reminiscent of the slide north of Redcrest. We watched the “alleged they” tried every fix possible, except for what worked, for about a decade. That cow was milked dry and it would make you all ill to see all the tax payer money wasted on it.

    I hope and pray there are no fatalities as this chapter south of Redcrest unfolds. I shook my head in disbelief when I flew the area and observed the poor preperations above the slide. We’ve all driven though this obstacle course at night with absolutely no solar powered or generator lighting. Prepare to do it again.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I have no complaints about our hard working, under payed Cal Trans workers. My hat is off to them all for the speed at which they reopened 101. I’m talikng about the engineers and upper level management. It’s their job to avoid turning the slide into a river.

  • The average rainfall for that area for December through the end of February is over 38 inches. Good luck Cal Trans! I wouldn’t want to be the engineer responsible for those kinds of fixes. The game is rigged and Mother Nature always bats last.

  • The upper rows are not disturbed except in one area. The disturbed area seems to result from a seep further down the slope. Something is seriously wrong with the structure, or there is an impermeable layer in the fill that is seeping. They just went up and replaced the berms and re seeded with more straw. This cannot possibly work. My uneducated thought is that they should drill drains down into the rock layer they placed at the base of the slope. This will be interesting to watch and very expensive…

  • imo -too steep of grade as well…they needed to take out A LOT more dir! but hey all i have is a hard hat and a reflective vest! haha

  • The fix that was done was recognized by Caltans and the emergency contractor to be a large band-aid only. The true fix of this area would have likely required a full excavation of the entire roadway (with months closure of 101), complete excavation of the hillside and the installation of deep deep drains. This type of fix would have taken years to just get to construction due to the design and permitting side (ACOE, RWQCB, FWS, etc.) of the equation. The temp fix you see today is a best effort but it will fail sometime again. The hope is that it stabilizes itself within the confines of the work performed.

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