A new, three-span, 315-foot long bridge in Parkdale opened last week, and after five years of being cut-off, access to Red Hill from Parkdale is once again possible.
The Red Hill Road bridge replaces a crossing over the middle fork of the Hood River that was washed out during a debris flow in November 2006; the same incident that took out a bridge and section of road near Laurance Lake, irrigation equipment and railroad tracks farther down the valley and a pipeline near the former Powerdale Dam on its way to the confluence with the Columbia, where it deposited about 26 acres of new sandbar.
The former bridge at Red Hill Road - a 60-foot steel structure - has yet to be found.
At the cost of about $1.3 million (paid for by Federal Highway Administration funds), the new structure is designed to handle major flooding events that would have breached the older bridge.
The USFS project took more than four years to be completed, and now that the crossing is back in place, residents will have direct access to a vast and popular area of Hood River County's southwest forests. With no bridge, access to the Red Hill area was still possible, but it was about a 90-minute drive to access the other side of the river where the new bridge now reaches.