Under construction

October 8, 2005

The work to remove loose boulders from a steep embankment along Interstate 84 began this week.

The crew from M.L. Houck Construction began scaling the hillside above the freeway just west of Hood River to perform that task.

The Salem firm was hired by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to knock down loose materials in the area, which is known for rockslides.

In mid-October, blasting begins to remove any potentially unstable dirt and stones before rainy and cold weather poses a danger.

During a snow and ice storm in January of 2004, a landslide blocked both eastbound lanes of I-84.

Although no one was injured by the cascading rocks and mud, Dave Thompson, ODOT communications coordinator, said the agency wants to avoid future problems.

After a survey of the craggy slope, state engineers determined that dangerous boulders needed to be removed to accomplish that goal.

Thompson said once the minor excavation has been completed, probably by the end of next week, the blasting schedule will be finalized. He anticipates that blasting will take place during the day on Tuesday and Thursday over a three-week period.

Both lanes of traffic will be closed down for about 20 minutes during the detonations to ensure public safety.

Once any debris that escapes the cache basin has been cleared away, Thompson said motorists will resume travel in the one open lane.

He said other traffic delays might also take place on Monday and Wednesday while blasting preparations are underway.

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