Historic highway restoration starts Monday

Project includes closure of the Vista House from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31

The historic Vista House overlooking the Columbia River Gorge will be closed for the last three months of 2012 so workers can restore the Crown Point viaduct and repave three miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway between Larch Mountain Road and Latourell Falls.

Lane closures will begin Monday as the first step in the year-long project.

The Oct. 1-Dec. 31 Vista House closure will coincide with restoration of the 600-foot concrete viaduct which surrounds the historic 1918 building. Work will be done in two phases; the first from Monday July 16 to Dec. 31, and from April 1, 2013, until completion by late spring 2013.

The viaduct and its 29 support columns are deteriorating. Without restoration, the walls could fail and jeopardize the safety of both Vista House and the highway. Without repairs, the road could require weight restrictions, which could keep tourist buses, RVs and other large vehicles off the road.

The Vista House building itself will not be involved in the project as it underwent a five-year restoration, reopening in 2005.

Here is the closure schedule:

July 16 to Aug. 31: The Historic Columbia River Highway from Larch Mountain Road to Bridal Veil Falls will see periodic weekday lane closures with traffic delays of up to 30 minutes. Vista House will be open.

Sept. 4-30: The highway from Crown Point to Latourell Falls will be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles, including bicycles, with Larch Mountain Road to Crown Point closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet. Vista House will be open.

Oct. 1 to Dec. 31: The highway from Larch Mountain Road to Latourell Falls will be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles, including bicycles. Latourell Falls to Bridal Veil Falls will be closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet Vista House will be closed.

Jan. 1 to April 1: Infrequent lane closures with specific traffic restrictions yet to be determined. Vista House will be open on its winter schedule.

April 1, 2013: Tentative start date for the final phase of the project, expected to be completed by late spring 2013. Periodic lane closures with specifics still to be determined. Vista House will be open.

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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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