Weekend rockslide closes I-84 in Oregon

| 12/5/2005

A second major rockslide in the Pacific Northwest caused some serious vehicle damage and closed sections of a major interstate in the area.

The slide occurred Sunday, Dec. 4, on Interstate 84 about 30 miles east of Portland, near Mile Marker 37. Two vehicles were hit by two of the car-sized boulders as they rolled down the mountainside. The driver of one of the vehicles had to be extricated from her vehicle and was in serious condition, while the driver in the second car suffered minor injuries, according to The Associated Press.

All four lanes of the roadway were closed, but both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane had been reopened by Monday morning. Dave Thompson, a spokesman for the Oregon DOT, told “Land Line Now” Monday, Dec. 5, that they hoped to have the other eastbound lane open within 24 hours, but said that no final decision could be made until geologists could assess the situation.

“This was a pretty huge rockslide,” Thompson said. “The people who were on the scene tell me that many of the rocks are bigger than vehicles, bigger than SUVs.”

Thompson said the alternate truck route is U.S. 26, also known as Mount Hood Highway, continuing north on Oregon Route 35. However, he cautioned truckers to take the winter elements into consideration before planning their routes.

“In winter conditions, you really need to be prepared for chaining up if the conditions warrant, and the signs will tell you,” Thompson said. “Since winter has set in, it’s a decent chance that the detour to avoid the delay could require chains.”

The Oregon rockslide was the second major incident in the region in less than a month. On Sunday, Nov. 6, more than 1,000 cubic yards of rock fell on Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass near East Bend, WA. According to the Washington DOT’s Web site, most of the rock has been removed from the roadway, and some lanes have reopened to through traffic; however, no date has been given for the complete reopening of the pass.