Truck loads restricted on freeway crossing

Driving the 20-mile stretch of freeway between Cascade Locks and Hood River will soon be much smoother as the first phase of repaving work begins this week.

In conjunction with that project, commercial truck traffic will be subject to load weight reductions on the railroad overcrossings at milepost 63.4 that could last up to one year. Effective on Oct. 8, the maximum allowable cargo will be 105,500 pounds, according to Charlie Sciscione, ODOT district manager.

He said vehicles exceeding that limit will be diverted to other roadways at the time their special hauling permit is issued. According to Sciscione, ODOT decided to reduce tonnage after minor cracks were recently found by safety inspectors in the girders under the westbound lanes. The Hood River crossings were identified as one of 22 new problem bridges that have joined 49 others around the state that are already weight restricted. Since the aging structures in the Gorge are slated for an overhaul that begins next spring, Sciscione said ODOT decided to forestall further problems by reducing truck loads until repairs have been made and new decking and rails have been installed on both passages.

Truckers with questions about the bridge restriction can call the Motor Carrier Transportation Division at (503) 373-000 or access the ODOT website at:

According to Sciscione, the railroad bridge construction is expected to bring only minor traffic delays since a temporary thoroughfare will be erected while work is underway. He also anticipates few problems with vehicle passage along Interstate 84 during the next few weeks while contractor J.C. Compton, Inc., of McMinnville, undertakes grinding to even out deeply rutted sections of the highway and then, weather permitting, lays down the first layer of pavement.

Although one lane may be closed during that work, causing some travel delays, assistant project manager Bob Neill said vehicles will face detours only near off-ramps and no total road closures are planned. No weekend or holiday construction has been scheduled.

Sciscione said the final overlay of asphalt will be put on the roadway next year and will have a more porous surface that is expected to eliminate a lot of the standing water which currently pools in low spots and causes some vehicles to hydroplane. In addition, he said visibility will be heightened by a newer type of striping, an increased number of reflectors on the concrete median strips, and road markers for travelers during poor weather conditions.

Sciscione said motorists driving on new pavement should be extremely cautious during the first fall rains because oils will leech onto the highway surface and make passage more slippery that normal.

The $12.5 million construction project was slated to begin three months ago, but language changes in the advertised work scope during the contractor bidding process legally necessitated that it be readvertised. The work is expected to be completed by November of 2002.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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