ODOT Breaking Ground On Mitchell Point Tunnel

ODOT, Oregon State Parks and project partners are breaking ground on a long awaited segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail: the Mitchell Point Tunnel.

The tunnel was a highlight of the old Columbia River Highway, the famed scenic road that opened a century ago. But the tunnel was abandoned and eventually destroyed with construction of Interstate 84.

Now, ODOT is breaking ground on a new tunnel and Historic Highway State Trail segment. When construction is complete in 2023, there will be a 655-foot tunnel with five arched windows reminiscent of the original tunnel at Mitchell Point.

ODOT has several ways you can take part:

Step 1: Pick an activity.

Download our Mitchell Point coloring sheet: color it in!

• Recreate the original Mitchell Point Tunnel or the future tunnel in art. Be creative! Draw it, paint it, or shape it with playdough or found objects. View our photo library for some inspiration.

Step 2: Share your creation. Take a photo and share it with us.

From the submissions, a handful of favorite entries will be selected to receive a Historic Highway prize.

To be eligible for the prizes, entries must embody the spirit of celebration and include:

• The artists’ name.

• The artist’s age.

• The artist’s city.

• Contact information for how we can reach you.

Click this link to upload your creation by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28.

Step 3: Join us for a video screening.

• At 6 p.m. on May 6, Join us on Facebook to watch a commemorative video. We will announce the winners of the art contest before the video screening. You can RSVP to the event now. You don’t need a Facebook account to watch the screening.

Constructed in 1915, the original Mitchell Point Tunnel was part of the old Columbia River Highway with its five arched windows an iconic view.

In 1953, we closed and filled in the tunnel, which had become to small and narrow for modern transportation, and it was destroyed in 1966 with construction of the interstate highway.

In 1986, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act passed and motivated the Oregon State Legislature to commit to restore the entire Historic Highway to its glory days of the 1920s. An effort is underway to restore all 73 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles. Some segments are accessible to cars and cyclists. Some segments, known as the Historic Highway State Trail, will be accessible only by people walking, rolling or biking.

In 2015, we developed seven alternatives for constructing a crossing at Mitchell Point. In 2018, the public commented on alternatives and we selected a tunnel concept.

The Mitchell Point Tunnel is one of three trail segments yet to be connected. To the west, we anticipate another trail segment beginning construction in 2022, which leaves one 1.6-mile segment remaining.

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