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Highway 35 improvement projects complete six years after washout

Bridge rededicated

Six years ago this month, a massive debris flow wiped out 2.5 miles of Highway 35 on the north side of Mount Hood, in Hood River County. Two million cubic yards of mud, trees and boulders damaged and destroyed bridges, culverts and roadways.

On Nov. 9, almost six years later to the day, ODOT and the Western Federal Lands Highway Division celebrated completion of the bridge over the White River. The project was the last and biggest in a series of bridge, road and culvert reconstruction projects on Highway 35 undertaken after the 2006 storm.

The rededication event, held at Mount Hood Meadows, provided the public with large photos of the new projects and the previous 2006 damage, and included speeches by officials involved in the rebuilding.

A ribbon-cutting followed at the new Highway 35 bridge over the White River, with a guided tour of the bridge’s underside.

Flooding has washed out Highway 35 at the White River 20 times since 1907, twice in 1926 and 1959 alone. But the washout that took place Nov. 6 and 7, 2006, was among the most severe in recent memory, with boulders larger than pickup trucks.

The flood dug trenches on the highway, the main road between Government Camp and Hood River, leaving widespread damage which closed the highway for five weeks during initial repairs.

During the flood, the White River dug a new channel through the road, completely burying the old channel (both over and under the White River Bridge) in mud and boulders. Washouts and undercuts also occurred at Clark and Newton creeks and along the East Fork of the Hood River Highway, at milepost 63.

A detailed listing of the repair project follows:

n Replacement of White River Bridge: The old bridge was virtually destroyed but was kept operating until its replacement by a new bridge that was longer and 12 feet higher, improving its ability to let future debris flows pass.

n Road repairs: Altogether, 3.2 miles of the Hood River Highway was rebuilt, repaved and raised.

n Two new bridges: New bridges were built over Green Apple and Clark creeks, replacing culverts and providing more room for a debris flow to pass beneath without taking out the road.

n Culverts: Six major segments of concrete box culverts were needed, ranging in width from 10 feet to 30 feet, totaling 747 feet altogether. These will allow future debris events from Clark Creek and Newton Creek to flow unabated under the road without damage.

n Overflow channel: A rock-lined overflow channel was built adjacent to Clark Creek and Newton Creek where they run parallel and have a history of flooding.

n Three corrugated metal pipes: A 12-foot wide pipe and a 20-foot wide pipe will help divert overflows at the north and south Mineral creeks while one 12 feet in diameter re-established a portion of Iron Creek lost when this highway was originally constructed.

n Stream beds: More than 400 feet of stream bed was restored along Iron Creek.

n Sno-Parks: Expanded Sno-Park acreage provides more parking and safer access to Nordic ski trails.

n Cost: The project bid award was $19.7 million, paid by the federal government.

n Trees: Hundreds of trees through the corridor were spared by expanding the schedule, limiting staging areas and adding a temporary bridge.

n Partners: The project was a cooperative effort by the Oregon Department of Transportation, U.S. Forest Service and the Western Federal Lands Highway Division.

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