We responded quickly to landslides in West Seattle to ensure public safety and restore a key travel route along Highland Park Way SW

We worked to assess, clear, and safely re-open Highland Park Way SW in West Seattle following two recent landslides caused by heavy rain, high winds, and saturated soils. Photo credit: SDOT

Editor’s Note (January 13, 4:05 p.m.): Highland Park Way SW has been fully re-opened; currently all travel lanes are open. You can also visit our @SDOTtraffic Twitter account anytime for the latest traffic updates and information.


The recent sub-freezing temperatures in Seattle have bid us farewell for now, but wet winter weather remains with us. Last Friday (January 7) brought another round of heavy rain and high winds – and when combined with the super saturated soils, we experienced landslides onto Seattle streets. This includes two landslides along Highland Park Way SW in West Seattle on Friday, January 7 and Tuesday, January 11.

We know landslides, heavy winds and rain, and travel disruptions are challenging for residents and travelers alike, particularly for the West Seattle community, where Highland Park Way SW serves as a vital detour route for the closed West Seattle Bridge. We deeply appreciate your patience, support, and commitment to safety as our team works to respond to these conditions as quickly and safely as possible.

Recap of landslide on Friday, January 7 – and our response

After the first landslide on Highland Park Way SW took place last Friday (January 7), our team quickly responded to the scene. We temporarily closed the street to protect travelers in the area, then began work to assess the landslide damage, clear numerous downed trees, mud, and other debris from the roadway, and prepare to safely re-open the street as quickly as possible.

This was a team effort between us, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Police Department, and Seattle Parks & Recreation. Seattle Police provided the initial street closure prior to SDOT crews setting up temporary traffic control devices. Seattle City Light helped to clear several downed power lines and trees in the area to ensure the area was safe for us to access and begin working to clear the street. Seattle Parks helped provide an initial assessment of conditions in the area.

We shared regular status updates via our Twitter accounts (@SDOTtraffic and @seattleDOT) as new information became available. We also published a Blog post with important safety reminders for travelers on Friday, January 7.

Here are several photos and a video showing the original landslide damage, temporary travel detours we quickly put into place to help keep people safe, the clean-up work taking place, and the re-opened street along Highland Park Way SW on Saturday, January 8.

This photo shows downed trees, mud, shrubs, and other debris slid into the street following heavy rain and high winds on Friday, January 7.
A high volume of downed trees, mud, shrubs, and other debris slid into the street following heavy rain and high winds on Friday, January 7. This photo shows the landslide damage. Photo credit: SDOT.
This photo shows high-visibility construction cones to mark detours for people driving, as well as for people walking, rolling, and biking in the area.
We quickly set up a temporary street closure on Friday, January 7. We used high-visibility construction cones to mark detours for people driving, as well as for people walking, rolling, and biking in the area. Photo credit: SDOT.
This photo shows clean-up activities along Highland Park Way SW on Saturday, January 8. A worker wearing an orange safety jacket watched the scene, and an excavator is visible to the right clearing the street.
We conducted the bulk of the clean-up effort on Saturday, January 8. This work is safest to complete during the daytime, when visibility is significantly better than at night. Photo credit: SDOT.

Here is a short video of our team power-washing the street prior to re-opening. Click on the video thumbnail to view the video via Twitter, or check out our Tweet here.

This photo shows our team power-washing the street and nearby sidewalk after heavy debris had been cleaned up. Two workers wearing safety equipment can be seen power washing the street with a pressure hose.
After we completed the heavy clean-up of debris, our team power-washed the street and nearby sidewalk to help ensure a safe, smooth ride for travelers using the street when it re-opened. Video credit: SDOT.

Here is our Tweet from Saturday night, January 8 sharing that we had re-opened the street. You can also view this Tweet on our @SDOTtraffic Twitter feed.

Photo of the re-opened street at Highland Park Way SW, between SW Holden St and W Marginal Way.
Photo of the re-opened street at Highland Park Way SW, between SW Holden St and W Marginal Way, which was shared on our SDOT Traffic Twitter account on Saturday night, January 8. Photo credit: SDOT.

Recap of landslide on Tuesday, January 11 – and our response

On the heels of last Friday’s landslide and street re-opening, heavy rains continued to pound the Seattle area with additional inches of precipitation soaking the ground throughout the city and at Highland Park Way SW. On Tuesday, January 11, a second landslide occurred on Highland Park Way SW. Once again, our crews rapidly responded and worked in a similar process to keep travelers safe by temporarily closing the street, and working to assess, clear, and prepare to re-open the street.

We have also been working with Seattle Parks & Recreation to plan temporary erosion control measures now, as well as to promote more vegetation in the spring. As an immediate safety precaution, we have added concrete blocks at the base of the hill to support and hold back the land. Currently the ground is too saturated with water to support vegetation growth, so in the spring Seattle Parks & Recreation plans to place more temporary erosion control measures including hydroseed to promote vegetation growth and help protect the surface soils. 

You can stay up to date on the latest travel information by following us on Twitter at @SDOTtraffic, or viewing our SDOT Travelers Map (which shows street and bridge closures and real-time camera feeds to see current conditions). King County Metro also provides transit updates via email and on Twitter at @kcmetrobus.

Here are several photos of our response to the second landslide on Tuesday, January 11.

Photo of significant mud, plants, and other debris that fell onto the street on Tuesday, January 11. The street is visible in the foreground, with the mud and debris visible in the middle and background of the photo.
Significant mud, plants, and other debris fell onto the street on Tuesday, January 11. Photo credit: SDOT.
Photo of workers using a large excavator to install concrete ecology blocks to help create a barrier to keep the roadway clear of debris as part of our clean-up work on Tuesday, January 11.
We used a large excavator to install concrete ecology blocks to help create a barrier to keep the roadway clear of debris as part of our clean-up work on Tuesday, January 11. Photo credit: SDOT.
Photo of concrete ecology blocks that help create a barrier where the landslide occurred on Tuesday, January 11, along Highland Park Way SW in West Seattle. The street is visible in the foreground, as the concrete blocks and hillside are visible up the upper middle part of the image.
Concrete ecology blocks create a barrier where the landslide occurred on Tuesday, January 11, along Highland Park Way SW in West Seattle. Photo credit: SDOT.

We take landslide risks seriously:

  • As rain and wet weather conditions continue this winter, we remain ready to respond to potential future landslides if and when they occur.
  • When we encounter a landslide, it typically means the soil is highly saturated, and mud and soil on hillsides could still potentially be unstable.
  • Particularly when rain is ongoing, there is a risk that the ground could give way again. To keep both our team and the traveling public safe, we use geologist experts to assess current soil stability conditions, and only clear mud and debris or re-open stretches of streets following a landslide once it is safe to do so.
  • Everyone’s safety is our top priority, and we appreciate your patience as we work through the clean-up process when landslides occur.


Important safety tips – how you can help when you need to travel:

  • If you need to drive, please obey all traffic signs, follow posted detour routes and police directions, and consider using alternate routes or postponing your trip to an off-peak travel time.
  • Additional notifications and travel advisories will be shared as streets reopen or conditions change (particularly on Twitter at @SDOTtraffic).
  • Be aware of your surroundings when walking, cycling, rolling, or driving. Please travel slow and stay alert!
  • With intense rain continuing over the past few days, please help keep your neighborhood safe and accessible for all. If a drain is blocked, clearing a clogged gutter will help reduce rainwater buildup that could otherwise cause flooding.
  • Notice a fallen tree or other debris blocking streets or sidewalks? Our crews are ready to respond. Contact our 24-hour SDOT dispatch office at (206) 386-1218.

Thank you again for your ongoing understanding and support as our team continues respond as quickly – and safely – as possible. We are dedicated to responding to weather effects to our streets, sidewalks, and protected bike lanes throughout the city, to help keep people moving forward. Please stay safe when you need to travel this winter!