HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Rappel crews from The Oregon Department of Transportation were working Friday to free remaining loose boulders after a massive rock slide closed Interstate 84 near Hood River Wednesday night.
Eastbound lanes will stay shut down through the weekend as crews give the heave-ho to loose rocks and trees hanging on the cliff next to the interstate. Workers may even use explosives to clear any remaining loose terrain.
ODOT is hoping to have just one eastbound lane open by Monday. One lane of I-84 westbound remains open between Hood River and Troutdale. Travelers were told to expect slow traffic and short-term closures as they navigate past the rock slide area.
So far, the work has cost $30,000 and counting and ODOT estimates 2,000 cubic yards of rocks and debris was dumped onto the interstate. The transportation agency has been monitoring possible landslide areas around the state, but officials said they didn’t consider the stretch of I-84 a mile west of the Columbia Gorge Hotel a trouble spot.
Raw Video: Crews free loose boulders on I-84
Drivers are forced to take a massive hours-long detour on Washington’s windy two-lane State Route 14. After a deadly crash on SR 14 Thursday, and the increased time and cost to truckers, many were upset I-84 east was closed starting 44 miles away in Troutdale, instead of closer in Cascade Locks.
On Friday, ODOT said it will staff the barricades at Troutdale to let local residents get through to Cascade Locks and Stevenson, Wash.
“Cascade Locks only has one northbound lane over the river. I-205 has four northbound lanes. (We’re) trying to put interstate-level traffic in on the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks, but it would overwhelm both the Bridge of the Gods and the community up there,” said Don Hamilton with ODOT.
ODOT will be looking at mesh or chain link fence to shore up rocks and prevent future landslides. With one the hopes of having one lane open Monday, the commute is expected to be very slow.
KGW reporter Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report.