By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
May 13, 2006
The work to remove loose boulders from a steep embankment along Interstate 84 is done — and both eastbound lanes are now open to traffic.
Last September, the right lane near milepost 61 was closed off to accommodate the excavation of large boulders. That section of freeway just west of Hood River had been the scene of a large landslide in January of 2004.
After mud and rocks cascaded down the unstable hillside and blocked both lanes during a winter storm, the Oregon Department of Transportation determined that large-scale rock removal was necessary.
M.L. Houck Construction of Salem was hired to undertake the project. ODOT budgeted the work at $1.5 million but the final bill is expected to be much less, according to Dave Thompson, spokesperson.
Work crews first knocked loose boulders off the cliff then blasted away other potentially dangerous material. During the excavation, six horizontal drains were installed to extract water from the rock face.
“Geologists honestly don’t know if the water caused the instability along that embankment but they do believe it certainly could have been a contributing factor,” he said.