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ODOT repair crews make progress on clearing roads closed by wildfires

Falling rocks OR Hwy 126
Loose rock often follows a wildfire as vegetation is burned away. Crews clear out rocks and debris that create a potential hazard to motorists using Hwy. 126E.

Pilot cars on Hwy. 126E; 9 miles of Hwy. 22E still closed

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Crews continue to make progress clearing and repairing roads damaged by wildfires around the state, but there’s a lot of work to do before roads are fully reopened in parts of Oregon, ODOT reported Wednesday.

Roughly 47 miles of highway remain closed, down from a peak of 244 miles, and roughly 43 miles are open to piloted traffic only, the agency said.

In the past week, imminent threat trees were removed in 95 miles of damaged area. Imminent threat trees pose the greatest risk of falling.

While removing imminent threat trees has been a priority and must be done before some other repairs, crews are also assessing culverts, guardrail, pavement, slopes, signs and equipment for damage.

Here’s what drivers can expect around the state, as reported by ODOT:

  • OR Highway 126E
    • Current status: Pilot cars are running between MP 27.55 to MP 38 in one direction at a time. Check for the latest schedule.
    • So far, we’ve removed imminent threat trees along 24 miles. We’ve assessed 19 bridges and 32 of 134 culverts. None of those were damaged. Of 494 signs we assessed, 424 will need to be replaced. All 45 miles of guardrails have been inspected and 1.35 miles will need to be replaced.
  • OR Highway 22E
    • Current status: Closed from MP 56 to MP 65. Pilot cars are guiding drivers between Gates and Detroit/Idanha. Residents should expect at least one hour to make a one-way trip. Check for the schedule.
    • So far, we’ve removed almost all imminent threat trees along 17 miles. We’ve also assessed 1,022 signs, 104 of which will need to be replaced, 18.69 miles of guardrail, 3 miles of which are damaged, and 40 of 65 miles of pavement, none of which is damaged according to preliminary assessments.
  • OR Highway 224
    • Current status: Closed between MP 31 and MP 49.97. Forest Service Road 46 is closed as well.
    • So far we’ve removed almost all imminent threat trees along 32 miles. We’ve also assessed 406 signs, 200 of which will need to be replaced. We’ve installed temporary signs for slides and ordered permanent signs.
  • OR Highway 138E
    • Current status: Pilot cars are operating between MP 21 and 29. Expect delays.
    • So far, along a 24-mile stretch of damage, we’ve removed imminent threat trees along 22 miles. In that same area, 3 miles of pavement has been damaged. Of 7.55 miles of guardrail assessed, 5.5 miles has been damaged.

A number of other east-west routes are open with no restrictions, including: I-84, U.S. 26, U.S. 20 and OR 58.

You can track our progress online. ODOT’s wildfire resources webpage includes information on closures, repairs and assessments to date, links to photos, videos and more. You can also sign up for news and emergency alerts.

Even after roads are fully reopened, heavy rain will be a concern in fire-stricken areas. 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 has stripped away vegetation, tree roots and underbrush.

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 and limited access. Through traffic should still take alternate routes until local wildfire hazards are resolved.

Drivers should check for updates on closures.

For pictures of road damage around the state:

For videos of explaining the recovery challenges faced by ODOT crews:

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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