PORTLAND, Ore. - Interstate 84 will remain closed between Troutdale and Hood River as ODOT assesses safety threats to the road caused by the Eagle Creek Fire, officials said Thursday.
There is no schedule for reopening the road, with trees and rocks continuing to fall. The road will not reopen until ODOT and its partners determine it is safe for the public. On Thursday, sections of guardrail and some road signs were clearly damaged by fire.
The fire is still burning but the U.S. Forest Service has authorized ODOT to begin inspections between milepost 37 and 41. The scale of the inspections will broaden as possible. Safety of first responders and travelers is the top priority.
Here are updates in some areas of concerns.
Danger trees. An initial evaluation showed between 1,500 and 2,000 trees in the I-84 corridor that are in danger of falling onto I-84. ODOT is working with forestry professionals to assess burned trees and make plans to remove those that are dangerous and threaten the road. On Thursday, crews continued assessments in safe areas. Due to fire conditions, this assessment is only taking place from the road and not along the slopes above the highway. The number of danger trees is likely to rise and it will take time to remove them.
Rockfall. ODOT is in the process of hiring contractors to assess conditions on the rock slopes that tower over the highways. Scalers will inspect the slopes and remove loose rocks before they can fall into the roadway. This work is expected to take place in the days ahead, as conditions allow.
Bridges. On Thursday, ODOT bridge engineers finished checking 60 to 70 I-84 bridges but found only minimal damage. Further inspections will be carried out in the days ahead on bridges along the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Oneonta Tunnel. The Oneonta Tunnel has suffered extensive fire damage but crews have not been able to conduct any kind of significant evaluation.
Historic Columbia River Highway. The old highway remains closed with no timeline for re-opening.
What’s Next. On Friday, crews will continue assessments of danger trees and the rockfall danger.
Having I-84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway closed is difficult on everyone who lives in, travels through, or loves the Columbia Gorge. Once it is safe to complete these steps, ODOT will have the roadways open as quickly as possible.
Check TripCheck.com for road conditions.