OR 22 in the Santiam Canyon reopened to thru traffic beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Sections of the highway have been closed to traffic or controlled with pilot cars since Sept. 7 when a wind storm and series of wildfires caused devastating damage to communities and creating a series of hazards for travelers.
The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that over 30,000 hazard trees have been removed along a 40-mile stretch of OR 22 that was heavily impacted by the winds and wildfires. Hazard trees are dead, dying or leaning trees that were damaged by the wildfires, and would likely come down on the highway posing a risk to travelers.
Travelers should be aware of the following:
• The speed limit is reduced to 40 mph between Gates (milepost 33) and Pamelia Creek Road (milepost 63).
• Significant work continues in the canyon and travelers should expect delays throughout the burn area.
• Utility companies are working throughout the corridor to repair power lines. Utilities and ODOT continue to cut down hazard trees.
• In addition to the ongoing work zones, hazards to travelers include damaged guardrail, roadside log decks and slash piles from the hazard tree removal, as well as the potential for falling rocks.
• With fall and winter rains beginning, slides and debris flows are a particular concern, especially in areas where the vegetation, tree roots and underbrush have been stripped away.
• Since many businesses and other facilities were damaged or destroyed by the fires, there are limited services available throughout the Santiam Canyon. Fill your gas tank, pack enough water, food and other supplies for the journey.
• Travelers are urged to use extreme caution while traveling through the burn area. Add extra travel time or consider using an alternative route.