Historic Columbia River Highway open again

Restoration project is now complete after renovation of the 1918 viaduct

Renovation of the Historic Columbia River Highway and the viaduct surrounding the Vista House has been completed and one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions is fully open.

The project has meant lane closures and, on occasion, full closures of the Historic Columbia River Highway that winds around Vista House. The work presented many difficulties on a raw, exposed site hundreds of feet above the Columbia River Gorge.

The project restored the 600-foot Crown Point viaduct and its 29 support columns. Vista House itself, part of the Oregon State Parks system, underwent a five-year restoration, completed in 2005, and was not involved in this project.

The viaduct and its support columns were deteriorating and without restoration, the walls eventually would have failed and the road would have required weight restrictions, which would have kept tourist buses, RVs and other large vehicles off the road.

While the focus of the project was rehabilitating the Crown Point viaduct, the project included restoration of portions of Historic Columbia River Highway between Larch Mountain Road and Latourell Falls.

The restoration maintained the original appearance as much as practical.

The project included:

n repair and replacement of viaduct columns and footings;

n repair and strengthening of the bottom of the viaduct deck;

n repairing cracks in the top of the viaduct deck and parapet;

n restoration of viaduct light fixtures and updating of electrical components;

n repair of the masonry retaining wall beneath the viaduct structure and repair of a failing section of roadway; and

n rehabilitation of the upper west parking lot at Crown Point.

The restoration project attempted wherever possible to maintain the original appearance of the structure.

The road, now called the Historic Columbia River Highway, opened in 1916. Two years later, Vista House opened at the Crown Point summit 733 feet above the Columbia River. Crown Point typically receives more than half a million visitors a year, a dramatic western gateway to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

The project was a joint effort of the Federal Highway Administration, Western Federal Lands Highway Division; the Oregon Department of Transportation; and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

For more project information, go to http://1.usa.gov/U0qSMB.

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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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