The reconstruction of State Route 530 near Oso, Washington, has started, at least with its initial step. While the landslide-devastated area still copes with the loss of lives and property following the March 22 landslide that ripped through the Stillaguamish River and into the town of Oso, the Washington State Dept. of Transportation has awarded the first contract to get State Route 530 back into working order.

WSDOT awarded IMCO General Construction of Ferndale, Washington, a $3.4 million contract to clear landslide debris off Highway 530 near Oso.

IMCO was the lowest of nine bidders on the job and will follow a removal plan developed by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Snohomish County. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the majority of the contract cost.

The decision to award the contract to an established firm wasn’t met without derision, as locals have petitioned the Washington governor saying the process for selecting a contractor favored large companies and excluded the local residents who have already been volunteering their time searching for victims.

WSDOT plans to create meet-and-greet sessions for local residents to apply for work on the project.

The clearing of roughly 90,000 cu yards of material still on the roadway will take between one and three months, WSDOT expects. They hope to have at least one lane of SR 530 open this fall, but potential significant damage to the roadway underneath the slide could change those plans if the pavement proves not drivable once debris has been cleared.

WSDOT has compiled a short list of teams for the design/build contract for constructing a permanent raised alignment of SR 530 east of Oso and will pick a contractor by the end of May with a notice to proceed likely issued by early June. This portion of work is expected to take until early October with funding coming from the Federal Highway Administration.

Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular MechanicsSports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.