WE CALL FOR THE ADDING A CENTER TURN LANE TO SR162 USING EXISTING RIGHT-OF-WAY
It is a beautiful mountain and we all appreciate its majesty whenever it is visible. We do not want to see it as a threat when we enjoy its beauty, but we also must logically realize that Mt. Rainier is a volcano on a range of active volcanos. That means we must plan for the threat of a lahar flowing through the Orting/Puyallup valleys.
Geologists predict that Mt. Rainier is more likely to collapse on itself rather than explode with an outward blast. When this happens the slope collapses causing melting glaciers and snowpack to travel down Mt. Rainier's slopes picking up loose material transforming it into a mudflow know as a lahar.
This flow has the consistency similar to wet concrete and can flow at speeds of 20-30 mph in valleys beyond the volcano's flanks. It continues to pick up boulders, trees, and building debris creating a wall of destruction threatening everything in its path.
Blast eruptions have visible signs of eminent danger from a volcano eruption. Lahars are the silent killers in that there is no visual warning. The speed that they travel makes evacuation delays deadly. The closer you are to the mountain the less time your have to evacuate.
"If future large lahars happen at rates similar to those of the past, there is roughly a 1-in-10 chance of a lahar reaching Puget Sound lowland during an average human lifespan.
Experience from around the world shows that moving to high ground off the valley floor is the only way to ensure safety during a lahar"
(source Carolyn L. Dreidger & William E. Scott, USGS)
If valley transportation corridors are limited or restricted the danger of not surviving is high.
Are you listening ORTING VALLEY? Any restriction to the flow of evacuation traffic, be it roundabouts or lack of available travel lanes, will lesson your chances of surviving a lahar. It is dangerous for you to be complacent as much as it is for you to be living in fear, when you can do something to increase your chances of survival.
Start by learning more about our mountain at https://geology.com/usgs/rainier/. It is a beautiful mountain to look at and admire, but we must remember that it is a volcano on an active chain of volcanos that someday may threaten us.
Next, GET ACTIVE building a community effort to pressure your state, city, or county governments to act to pressure WSDOT to prepare a safe evacuation corridor. It can start by eliminating evacuation obstacles like a network of roundabouts.
We cannot ignore preparing for it and we must consider it in all of the changes we make to this valley. Paradise CA should be our example, an unexpected wildfire caught that community unprepared. Evacuation efforts failed due to escape route shortfalls and 86 people died. In the Orting Valley that number will be in the thousands.
We have a fine lahar warning system in place to get us moving when a lahar is detected, but how do we move in a gridlocked SR162. Pierce County is doing its part in adding roadways to the plateaus, but WSDOT is prohibitiing us from getting to them.
As a group we have been trying to do our part, but it takes more than us and we need all of the Orting valley residents to individually push your State, town, and county leaders. Our voice is only one and we need the voices of the cities and developments that are in the path of the lahar to call for action to protect its citizens. People, this is a life or death situation and very few are taking action to lesson it.