Wildfires in Oregon, Washington causing road closures and HOS exemptions

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, September 08, 2017

While hurricane conditions are affecting large areas of the nation, significant wildfires continue to burn in the West. Federal regulations have been suspended for drivers providing direct assistance in Oregon and Washington while a portion of Interstate 84 in the Beaver State remains closed.

Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the wildfires in the states of Oregon and Washington are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations.

The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge area continues to burn more than 30,000 acres. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, I-84 between Troutdale and Hood River remains closed as well as the Historic Columbia River Highway with no timeline available for their reopening. The U.S. Forest Service has authorized ODOT to begin inspections between milepost 37 and 41.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, I-84 remains closed in both directions between Exit 17 in Troutdale and Exit 62 at Hood River. ODOT has established the following detours:

  • The new detour for westbound motor carriers has trucks using U.S. 197 from The Dalles south to OR 216 to U.S. 26 west back to I-84.
  • The new detour for eastbound motor carriers is the reverse: U.S. 26 east to OR 216, to U.S. 197 north to I-84 at The Dalles.

ODOT will be using message boards in the area to guide truckers. I-84 will remain closed until officials have deemed the road safe. Washington State Route 14 is open to passenger traffic, but closed to commercial vehicles.

In Washington, all vehicles over 10,000 GVW are prohibited on eastbound SR 14 between Washougal (milepost 19) and U.S. 197 in Dallesport (milepost 84). Freight haulers should plan an alternate route. There is no estimate for lifting the restrictions.

About 2,000 trees along the I-84 corridor are in danger of falling on the interstate. That number is likely to increase as crews gain more access to the area. Slopes along the interstate also pose a risk with falling rocks.

Minimal damage was found to bridges after engineers inspected about 70 bridges along the corridor. However, the Oneonta Tunnel on the Historic Columbia River Highway between Troutdale and The Dalles has suffered significant damage.

According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, the Eagle Creek Fire was reported on Saturday, Sept. 2, in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Within the first day, the fire grew to 3,000 acres. As of press time, the fire is at more than 33,000 acres at 7 percent containment. NWCG does not expect full containment of the wildfire until Sept. 30.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon has issued a Level 3 evacuation order for Larch Mountain, Dodson, Warrendale, Latourell, Bridal Veil and East Corbett. In Hood River County, Ore., Level 3 evacuations are set for everything south of I-84 in Cascade Locks.

For the latest traffic information in Oregon, visit TripCheck.com.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, SR 410 west of Chinook Pass is closed to through traffic in both directions. The highway is closed eastbound at SR 123 milepost 65 west of the summit. The westbound closure is at Bumping River Road at milepost 88.5. Bumping River Road is also closed. A detour for SR 410 traffic is available via US 12 White Pass and SR 123. The closures are expected to remain through at least Saturday, Sept. 9.

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