The Oregon Department of Transportation has inched ever closer to its goal of reconnecting a 75-mile paved path and low-volume road between Troutdale and The Dalles. Their Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail project just won a $28 million grant from the US Department of Transportation for the Mitchell Point Crossing.
The grant, which comes from the Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program, will allow ODOT to complete engineering designs and trail connections on one of the last remaining (and most technically and financially demanding) segments of the project — a safe crossing around Mitchell Point that might include a new tunnel. Before Interstate 84 existed the old highway used to go through the Mitchell Point Tunnel. That tunnel and large segments of the road that led into them were closed in 1953 as cars and trucks increased in size and rockfalls became too hazardous.
With a three-mile segment of the Historic Highway being constructed this winter and a 1.2 mile section that just opened last month, the funding of the Mitchell Point Crossing segment brings ODOT tantalizingly close to finishing the project.
“With the engineering funding secured, we are oh-so close to completing our vision of creating a world class experience between Troutdale and The Dalles,” Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator Kristen Stallman shared with us in a recent email. “It is an exciting time in the Gorge.”
Indeed it is. The final connection east into Hood River is the only section that remains unfunded and it’s very likely that 2017 will be the year that final piece of the puzzle gets set into place.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org