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Historic highway restoration starts Monday

Project includes closure of the Vista House from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31

The historic Vista House overlooking the Columbia River Gorge will be closed for the last three months of 2012 so workers can restore the Crown Point viaduct and repave three miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway between Larch Mountain Road and Latourell Falls.

Lane closures will begin Monday as the first step in the year-long project.

The Oct. 1-Dec. 31 Vista House closure will coincide with restoration of the 600-foot concrete viaduct which surrounds the historic 1918 building. Work will be done in two phases; the first from Monday July 16 to Dec. 31, and from April 1, 2013, until completion by late spring 2013.

The viaduct and its 29 support columns are deteriorating. Without restoration, the walls could fail and jeopardize the safety of both Vista House and the highway. Without repairs, the road could require weight restrictions, which could keep tourist buses, RVs and other large vehicles off the road.

The Vista House building itself will not be involved in the project as it underwent a five-year restoration, reopening in 2005.

Here is the closure schedule:

July 16 to Aug. 31: The Historic Columbia River Highway from Larch Mountain Road to Bridal Veil Falls will see periodic weekday lane closures with traffic delays of up to 30 minutes. Vista House will be open.

Sept. 4-30: The highway from Crown Point to Latourell Falls will be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles, including bicycles, with Larch Mountain Road to Crown Point closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet. Vista House will be open.

Oct. 1 to Dec. 31: The highway from Larch Mountain Road to Latourell Falls will be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles, including bicycles. Latourell Falls to Bridal Veil Falls will be closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet Vista House will be closed.

Jan. 1 to April 1: Infrequent lane closures with specific traffic restrictions yet to be determined. Vista House will be open on its winter schedule.

April 1, 2013: Tentative start date for the final phase of the project, expected to be completed by late spring 2013. Periodic lane closures with specifics still to be determined. Vista House will be open.

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