Oregon prepares to enforce chain rule

| 12/18/2001

Authorities are gearing up to enforce chain requirements this winter on big rigs when a snowstorm hits the Columbia River Gorge. A series of electronic signs will warn truckers that they must have chains on or face a citation.

The Oregon State Police and Transportation Department crafted the plan last winter requiring that trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds use chains on Interstate 84 from near Portland to The Dalles as soon as a heavy snowfall creates the risk of an accident.

The Chain Checkpoint Plan is activated only after the state declares a wintry condition covering the entire gorge area. Because of mild weather last winter, the new policy was used only once, during a December snowstorm. Word quickly spread over the CB radio and truckers began pulling off the road prior to the checkpoint.

Some drivers told state police it was against company policy to use chains.

Oregon officials have coordinated plans with authorities in Washington to prevent trucks from avoiding the rules by heading across the Columbia River. Officials did acknowledge, however, that most truck traffic crosses the river at The Dalles or Biggs Junction, well east of where either state would require chains.