Freeway set for blasting

September 17, 2005

Winter storms are only months away and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is taking steps to protect motorists from a possible landslide along a troubled section of Interstate 84.

This week a crew from M.L. Houck Construction of Salem blocked off one eastbound lane of traffic just west of Hood River. They were setting up barriers near milepost 60 to catch falling debris. Next week they will begin knocking loose boulders off the steep hillside along that stretch of the freeway.

Once minor excavation has been done, blasting is set to begin in mid-October and bring traffic stops of up to 20 minutes.

Shawn Ohlman, ODOT spokesperson, said the preliminary schedule is to have blasting of unstable areas take place on Tuesday and Thursdays over a three-week period. He said a total closure of the roadway is necessary following the explosions to clear away debris. Other traffic delays might be caused on Monday and Wednesday during blasting preparations.

“This area has been unstable for years and we want to eliminate a safety concern,” said Uhlman.

During a snow and ice storm in January of 2004, rocks and dirt cascaded across both eastbound lanes of the freeway. At that time, ODOT engineers determined that “dangerous” boulders needed to be removed to avoid continued problems. Uhlman said that work will be accomplished this fall and, hopefully, will eliminate any future challenges.

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