Tuesday, May 30, 2006
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
May 13, 2006
The work to remove loose boulders from a steep embankment along Interstate 84 is done — and both eastbound lanes are now open to traffic.
Last September, the right lane near milepost 61 was closed off to accommodate the excavation of large boulders. That section of freeway just west of Hood River had been the scene of a large landslide in January of 2004.
After mud and rocks cascaded down the unstable hillside and blocked both lanes during a winter storm, the Oregon Department of Transportation determined that large-scale rock removal was necessary.
M.L. Houck Construction of Salem was hired to undertake the project. ODOT budgeted the work at $1.5 million but the final bill is expected to be much less, according to Dave Thompson, spokesperson.
Work crews first knocked loose boulders off the cliff then blasted away other potentially dangerous material. During the excavation, six horizontal drains were installed to extract water from the rock face.
“Geologists honestly don’t know if the water caused the instability along that embankment but they do believe it certainly could have been a contributing factor,” he said.
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Lawnmower torches Arbor Vitae on Portland Drive
The riding lawn mower driven by Norma Cannon overheated and made contact with dry arbor vitae owned by Lee and Norma Curtis, sending more than a dozen of the tightly-packed trees up in flames. The mower, visible at far right, was totaled. No one was injured; neighbors first kept the fire at bay with garden hoses and Westside and Hood River Fire Departments responded and doused the fire before it reached any structures. Westside Fire chief Jim Trammell, in blue shirt, directs firefighters. The video was taken by Capt. Dave Smith of Hood River Fire Department. Enlarge