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It doesn’t take much to block the road to Bachelor


After a day of speeding down the slopes of Mt. Bachelor, hundreds of people heading back to Bend on Sunday were not thrilled to be stuck at a standstill on Century Drive.

Both lanes of the road up to — and down from — the mountain were closed down for at least 20 minutes, forcing drivers to either wait it out, turn around or take an hourlong detour to Bend.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Transportation said a few minor crashes were to blame.

Region 4 Public Information Officer Peter Murphy said a driver was heading east Sunday when he lost control of his car and crossed over into the opposite lane. Several other drivers behind that vehicle then lost control of their cars. Fortunately, other than the traffic delay, officials reported no major issues or injuries.

“It’s not unusual. You know, you put 6,000 cars going uphill or coming downhill, you’re going to end up with somebody tapping on the brakes in the snow,” Murphy said Monday. “It happens all the time. We were pretty lucky (the accident) wasn’t worse than it was. “

Several drivers told NewsChannel 21 they noticed ODOT crews out on Century Drive at the time and questioned whether it was smart to be there during the rush to come down from the mountain.

But in reality, ODOT crews were already there a half-hour before the crash happened, sanding the roads for safety.

Murphy said crews have a planned schedule every day and — for the most part — they stick to it. Truck drivers have a route to follow throughout their shift (whether its in town or up toward Mount Bachelor) and they cycle through it until the day. Sometimes, traffic gets in the way of that plan.

“What we try to do — and it’s not a perfect solution — is to start at one place with our sanding operation, or maybe deicing, and follow kind of a route so we are circling through travel area that goes up toward the mountain,” Murphy said. “But when there’s a crash, what we have to do is depart from that, so that affects our normal routine.”

“It’s a bit of a challenge when crashes start happening but that’s just the nature of the business,” he said.

If you find yourself in a similar bind as the one skiers and snowboarders faced this weekend, ODOT officials have a few tips:

Leave before the a.m. rush up and after the p.m. rush down the mountain. Make room for plows on the road. Let them get in around you, so they can clear the road. And of course, slow down. Be aware there are hundreds of other people on the road trying to do the exact same thing as you are.

You can always check driving conditions on ODOT’s TripCheck, and we also have it displayed on a page here at KTVZ.COM.

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