Sept. 16, 2020
Contact: Katherine Benenati, 503-871-0388
SALEM – Even with wildfires still burning, ODOT crews around the state have begun assessing damage on hundreds of miles of road, removing thousands of trees damaged by fire, and inspecting culverts, bridges, guardrail and pavement.
The work will continue location by location as conditions allow, but it will be some time before roads reopen – partially or fully – to traffic. Even when roads do reopen, ODOT crews will continue monitoring for hazards including landslides or loose rock in areas where wildfires have scarred the landscape.
New webpage shows recovery progress
A new webpage will track this progress showing information on what we’ve done and still need to do to reopen closed roads. The webpage also provides information on road and office closures, links to news releases, photos, videos and more.
“This is such a dynamic and constantly changing situation, we have to make sure these roads are cleared,” said Luci Moore, ODOT State Maintenance and Operations Engineer. “There are many concerns that we will address. It is likely to be some time before these roads open to full or even partial travel. Each will be determined individually based on the damages.”
Recovery work underway
ODOT has started removing hazard trees on OR 138 E, OR 126 McKenzie Highway and Oregon 22 North Santiam Highway. While ODOT is still assessing how many trees it will need to remove, estimates put the number of hazard trees along the OR 22 corridor alone in the hundreds of thousands.
Roads will remain closed until ODOT can remove debris from affected areas, inspect slopes for weakness, inspect bridges, pavement, culverts, signs, guardrail and other structures for damage, and make repairs. Rock scaling — to bring down materials that threaten roads — will be used where needed.
Even after roads are fully reopened, heavy rain will be a concern in fire-stricken areas and ODOT may have further work to do to stabilize hillsides or clear debris from falls. Slides and debris flows are a particular concern — especially after rains — in areas where fire stripped away vegetation, tree roots and underbrush, creating greater slide danger.
Know before you go
Partial openings that allow limited traffic while work continues will be common. Drivers can expect to see flaggers or pilot cars and should plan for frequent lane closures.
Drivers should check www.TripCheck.com for updates on closures.
For pictures of road damage around the state: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/albums/72157715891016418
For videos explaining the recovery challenges faced by ODOT crews: