The Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking the initial steps necessary to repair a damaged section of U.S. Highway 2 in Douglas County.

A 24-mile stretch of the road is currently closed from the junction of State Route 172 (SR-172) at Farmer east to the junction of State Route 17 (SR-17) near Coulee City due to a mudslide that washed out a portion of the highway on Monday.

DOT spokesperson Lauren Loebsack says detours are available but drivers will need to be prepared for lengthier travel times.

"There are some long ways around the closure but those alternative routes are certainly not ideal. However, we need to keep the road closed because the portion of the highway that was damaged includes more than a full lane of the road that was completely stripped away. So we're missing large portions of those lanes through that area and aren't able to move traffic through there at this time."

Westbound travelers are being advised to use SR-172 through Mansfield to go around the closure, while eastbound motorists are being directed to use SR-17 south to State Route 28 to avoid the closure.

Although there are several county roads that remain open within the closure zone, Loebsack says drivers should only use the suggested detours.

"Right now we're trying to keep that section of Highway 2 open for the people that live in there and for the agricultural traffic that needs to move through that area. But we don't want drivers to think that they can sneak around the barricades because the road really is impassable."

Anyone who disobeys a road closure sign on a state or U.S. highway is subject to a $145 citation or even arrest.

On Wednesday, the DOT began looking for an emergency contractor who can repair the roadway. Once retained to perform the work, Loebsack says they will assess the damage and provide an estimate for reopening.

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