A storm-damaged bridge that closed down a stretch of Highway 2 west of Stevens Pass can be reopened to traffic before Thanksgiving, the state’s transportation department announced Thursday.

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A storm-damaged bridge that closed down a stretch of U.S. Highway 2 west of Stevens Pass can be reopened with at least one-lane of traffic before Thanksgiving, the state’s transportation department announced Thursday.

Contractors will begin repairing erosion hazards Friday under the concrete span east of Skykomish at Milepost 54, and plan to reopen a lane by Wednesday, officials said.

Related: Mountain Loop Highway, Suiattle River Road closed by storm damage

“Our bridge engineers spent the morning assessing the damage to the bridge and developing a plan to restore traffic to this critical route,” Dave McCormick, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) assistant regional administrator, said in a media statement issued Thursday.

State officials initially closed the road because of a mudslide Tuesday afternoon and then kept a 15-mile stretch of the highway closed after finding that a swollen, storm-fed creek had undermined the bridge foundation.

Highway 2 is a major east-west route carrying about 5,000 vehicles a day over the mountains.

Repair crews are expected to install a temporary support system underneath the bridge’s southeast corner before it will be reopened.

Once that work is complete, temporary traffic lights will be installed at either end of the bridge and timed to allow vehicles traveling in either direction to take turns passing over the span via its one open lane.

Contractors then will continue repairs to permanently rebuild the bridge’s foundation, using a jack to lift it and replace the washed-away soil with grout.

Costs to repair the span are estimated from $200,000 to $500,000, officials said. WSDOT will seek Federal Highway Administration Emergency relief funds to cover at least some of the costs.

In Thursday’s statement, McCormick said more details about when both of the bridge’s two lanes will be reopened should come in the next several days. Some area business officials said transportation officials told them the span’s permanent repairs should take about a month to complete, with both traffic lanes expected to be open before Christmas.

Thursday’s news that the bridge could be reopened relatively quickly came as a relief to the Stevens Pass Ski Resort and the nearby town of Leavenworth, the Bavarian-themed village that caters to winter tourists.

“For us, this is really perfect timing,” said Chris Danforth, spokesman for Stevens Pass, which suffered heavy losses amid last year’s record-low snowfall in the Cascades. “We’re still probably one good storm short of opening, and right now the forecast doesn’t look like that’s going to happen before Thanksgiving.”

With the highway expected to open before the ski resort does — and with both lanes of it planned to reopen before Christmas — Stevens Pass should feel no significant impact, Danforth said.

Nancy Smith, director of the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce, said anytime there’s a closure to either of the two major highways from Western Washington into town, Leavenworth businesses are negatively impacted.

The first weekend of December, when the town’s Christmas lighting festivities take place, typically draws big crowds and kicks off Leavenworth’s peak tourist season, she said.

“We remain hopeful that there will be at least one (bridge) lane open to traffic before then,” Smith said. “By Monday, we’ll need to know for our sales purposes whether we’ll need to announce any significant rerouting on I-90.”

When the bridge’s single traffic lane is opened during ongoing repairs, oversized loads will be prohibited from crossing the bridge. WSDOT will allow emergency vehicles to cross, officials said.

Aside from the stress on businesses in limbo bracing for the worst, the bridge’s temporary closure has affected residents who use Highway 2 as their main commuter route to and from work.

Alysa Hetze, of the Stevens Pass Ski Resort, said about 10 employees live west of the closed bridge.

“For people who haven’t been able to take the normal routes to work, we’re continuing our daily operations without them,” she said.

During past highway closures, residents and businesses have criticized state officials for failing to publicize alternative routes to the area.

After a rock slide caused a partial closure to Snoqualmie Pass in 2005, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire warned travelers to stay home for Thanksgiving. Townspeople later blamed her warning for scaring away tourists and killing seasonal business.

“Nobody bothered to tell anyone that there was another highway open,” Smith said. “This kind of misinformation is something we’ve always battled. People can make their own choices. Just give them the facts.”

People traveling east from the Puget Sound area can take Interstate 90 to Highway 970 and then cross Blewett Pass on Highway 97 to get to Leavenworth.