ODOT: Valley, No. Coast – Crews continue work along OR 22 and other fire impacted routes in Marion County
The Oregon Department of Transportation has opened the 4-mile section of OR 22 between Gates and Mill City today in conjunction with Marion County’s recent announcement that the evacuation status of some communities has changed. Only the short section of OR 22 between those two communities will be open at this time, the rest of the highway is closed due to fire related activities and safety hazards. Details on evacuation status changes and how to access Gate and Mill City via local roads was announced to media this morning and is available on the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, or call the Marion County public information office at 503-584-6276.
Several fire impacted state highways remain closed, including most of OR 22, as crews from multiple agencies continue to battle wildfires, restore utility services, fell hazard trees and repair damaged roads, culverts, guardrail, and other highway features.
“Ten thousand was the initial estimate from our foresters,” said Cole Mullis, ODOT District 3 Operations Manager. “That’s the number of fire damaged trees that will need to be felled along the 40-mile stretch of OR 22 before we can fully opening the route.”
Another 80,000-100,000 trees in the fire impacted area may need to be cut down, depending on their survival rate.
With changing weather and rain the risk of land slides and flooding is a growing concern. Fire damaged vegetation that once help hold soil, rocks, trees and other debris to hillsides is gone in some areas and rain will likely result in some landslides.
“We are monitoring potential landslide area and fire damaged trees, and will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months,” Mullis said. “Please be patient. We are working to get our state routes open as soon as it is safe to do so.”
ODOT is working closely with the forest service, law enforcement, county officials and other agencies to keep travelers safe and get state routes reopened as soon as possible.
“Regaining access for community members is a high priority, but safety is our primary concern” said Marion County Public Information Officer Sergeant Jeremy Landers.
Current Marion County area state highway closures:
* OR 22 and the intersection of OR 226
* OR 22 and Jennie Road
* OR 22 at U.S. 20
* OR 22 at Gates Hill Road
Marion County area state highways that were closed but now open:
* OR 22 between the communities of Gates and Mill City only
* OR 226 from 21.9 to 25.7
With wildfires still burning in many areas, smoke and fog have greatly reduced visibility.
The best way to stay safe is avoid driving unless absolutely necessary. Remember to check conditions if you must head out. A number of roads remain closed throughout the state. Go to Tripcheck.com or call 5-1-1 for real time road conditions.
If you encounter heavy smoke while driving, remember to slow down, turn on your headlights, use your fog lights if you have them, and give other drivers plenty of space. Remember to never stop in a travel lane and if you must pull over pull off the road as far as possible.
A gallery of photos and videos from wildfires throughout the state is at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/. Videos are also at https://www.youtube.com/user/OregonDOT. More Info Here