Oregon DOT working to assess, repair roads damaged by wildfire

Crews removing thousands of trees along damaged roads, and inspecting culverts, bridges, guardrail, and pavement

September 21, 2020 / 2 minute read
Oregon DOT working to assess, repair roads damaged by wildfire
Image: Oregon DOT

Crews with the Oregon DOT (ODOT) have begun assessing wildfire damage on hundreds of miles of roadway, even with wildfires still burning.

The work includes removing thousands of trees along roadways damaged by fire, and inspecting culverts, bridges, guardrail, and pavement.

The work will continue as conditions allow, but it will be some time before certain roads reopen—partially or fully—to traffic. Even when roads do reopen, ODOT crews will continue monitoring for hazards including landslides or loose rock in areas where wildfires have scarred the landscape.

“This is such a dynamic and constantly changing situation, we have to make sure these roads are cleared,” Luci Moore, ODOT State Maintenance and Operations Engineer, said in a statement. “There are many concerns that we will address. It is likely to be some time before these roads open to full or even partial travel. Each will be determined individually based on the damages.”

ODOT has started removing hazard trees on OR 138 E, OR 126 McKenzie Highway, and Oregon 22 North Santiam Highway. While ODOT is still assessing how many trees it will need to remove, estimates put the number of hazard trees along the OR 22 corridor alone in the hundreds of thousands.

Roads will remain closed until ODOT can remove debris from affected areas, inspect slopes for weakness, inspect bridges, pavement, culverts, signs, guardrail and other structures for damage, and make repairs. Rock scaling to bring down materials that threaten roads will be used where needed.

Even after roads are fully reopened, heavy rain will be a concern in fire-stricken areas and ODOT may have further work to do to stabilize hillsides or clear debris from falls. ODOT says slides and debris flows are a particular concern—especially after rains—in areas where fire stripped away vegetation, tree roots, and underbrush, creating greater slide danger.



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