White River culvert confounds ODOT crews

October 8, 2005

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews hoped to have Highway 35 open to traffic on Friday, but, as of press time, could not guarantee that result.

“We’ll open the road as soon as we can,” said Dave Thompson, Communications Coordinator for ODOT. “If more water comes, where is it going to go? It’s going to go over the road and carry mud with it. We have to protect the actual waterway and dig out shoulders.”

The primary cause for delay has been the three culverts that drain Newton, Clark and White rivers.

Workers have freed and cleared the Newton and Clark culverts. But they are still wrestling with a culvert that drains the White River. Last Friday’s flash flood buried it under more than 25 feet of a mud and sediment, Thomspon said.

“It not only clogged the culverts. It buried them,” Thompson said. “So the problem is not just unclogging them. It’s finding them.”

ODOT did find the culvert and has been trying to unclog it of its sediment and logs pinched inside.

So much so that ODOT tried using a borrowed backhoe with extra suction power.

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