Roadwork continues after rock slides in Oregon, Washington

| Thursday, December 08, 2005

All four lanes of Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington are expected to reopen by the middle of next week, more than a month after a major rockslide closed the mountainous roadway.

However, a second slide near Multnomah Falls, OR, on Dec. 4 will keep one eastbound lane of Interstate 84 closed for up to two more weeks, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Dave Thompson, a spokesman for ODOT, told The Associated Press that somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 cubic yards of rock fell on the highway during the slide. The roadway was closed for about eight hours, but both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane reopened by Monday morning.

Thompson had told “Land Line Now” on 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.”

While Oregon begins its work on the closed lane, road crews in Washington are finishing work on the Interstate 90 pass, which included trucking several hundred tons of rock from the site, installing protective fencing and drilling 40-foot-long protective bolts into the remaining overhead rock.

After the initial slide in Washington, alternate routes of U.S. 2; Stevens Pass; and Washington Route 12, White Pass, were established. One eastbound and one westbound lane remained open, with a speed limit within the work zone of 35 mph. Oversize loads were not allowed through the pass.

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