Travelers using Highway 35 will trade some traffic delays this summer for a much safer journey.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has undertaken a $3 million project to stop rocks from tumbling onto the roadway. Benge Construction of Tualatin began working on the long-time safety threat this week between milepost 72.70 and milepost 73.18, near the Sherwood Campground.
“We’re fixing a chronic rockfall problem that presents a danger to motorists,” said Dave Thompson, ODOT spokesperson.
He said slopes flanking the highway in that area have presented problems for years and will finally be stabilized. The repairs include bolting rocks in place, installing screening and replacing battered concrete barriers.
The project is expected to be completed by fall and will involve up to 20-minute delays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Thompson said to accommodate weekend traffic the hours on Friday are shortened to morning only and there will be no Saturday or Sunday work.
ODOT has been challenged to keep the passage over Mt. Hood open and free from peril. In the fall of 2000, heavy rains sent more than 600,000 cubic yards of glacial material coursing down Newton Creek and the White River. That debris flow washed out a 20-foot span of the highway at the northern end of the White River Bridge and another 20-foot section of pavement in that vicinity. The $1 million of emergency work that year followed the raising of that bridge about 20 feet since the
1970s to accomodate a buildup of sediment.