New rock slides near Oneonta and Horsetail falls have set back plans to reopen the six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway closed since the Eagle Creek Fire.
The highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park has remained closed since Sept. 4, 2017, two days after the start of the fire. ODOT had hoped to reopen this section of road this fall but new slides have delayed those plans.
The latest slides came from high up on the hillside, spilling across hiking trails and the Historic Columbia River Highway. Experts are assessing what further safety measures may be needed before the road can reopen.
“This setback is a real disappointment to us,” said Rian Windsheimer, ODOT’s regional manager for the Portland area. “Our crews have been working hard to get these areas cleared. But there’s plenty to do before we can safely reopen the road.”
ODOT had planned a phased reopening of the road, with car traffic allowed eastbound only with the other lane for people walking and riding bicycles. The resulting traffic, parking and user data would then be analyzed to see if the one-way vehicle traffic would improve congestion and safety in the area. Those plans are now being reassessed.
ODOT, the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department have been working together to reopen sections of the Gorge closed since the Eagle Creek Fire.
ODOT has set no new timeline for reopening the closed road.