What snow? Highway work plows ahead


News staff writer

December 2, 2006

The Oregon Department of Transportation has reported that this week’s heavy snowfall hasn’t slowed down the repairs to flood damaged sections of Highway 35.

ODOT and Tri-State Construction, a hired contractor, now have 33 pieces of heavy machinery at work. If all keeps going well, Shawn Uhlman, ODOT spokesperson, said both the north and south accesses to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort should reopen as planned by Dec. 15.

“It’s not ideal to have snow but we are still on schedule and we’ll make it unless there is a really significant weather event or unforeseen circumstances,” said Uhlman.

He said the cold weather may have helped stabilize the slopes above the work zones by freezing the ground solid.

Uhlman said the worst case scenario for ODOT would be a return of the warm rains that inundated loose glacial material on Mount Hood in early November. Experts estimate that one million cubic yards of mud slid downhill and into the White River and both Newton and Clark creeks during the early morning hours of Nov. 7.

The surge of water and sediment picked up boulders and pieces of wood that undercut pavement and gouged deep ditches near the two creeks.

In addition, the underspan of the White River Bridge was completely clogged by material, as was the river channel. That caused the waterway to carve a new channel that destroyed a 30-foot cross section of the highway north of the structure.

Uhlman said huge 30-yard dump trucks are now hauling debris from under the bridge around the clock. It is being transported to the two creek repair sites to be used as fill material.

Meanwhile, two large culverts have been installed to corral the White River and provide a base for the rock that has already been laid so the roadway can now be rebuilt.

For the time being, ODOT plans for the White River to remain in the new channel, although Uhlman said it will likely be re-routed back under the bridge at a later date.

Other Highway 35 notes:

* Highway 35 remains closed to public access just south of Baseline Drive and from the northern entrance at Highway 26.

* Meadows employees are being bused into the resort in the morning and evenings to prepare for the seasonal opening. The company is Hood River County’s largest private employer with 1,000 workers onboard during the winter months.

* Dave Riley, president of Meadows, anxiously awaits the reopening of the business and return of the 500,000 expected annual guests.

* Riley is keeping interested recreationists posted about the Highway 35 repairs on his blog, which can be accessed at www.skihood.com.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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