It might be late 2024 before we can ride it, but it’s still hard to contain our excitement for what is easily the coolest bike infrastructure project in America right now: the re-opening of the carfree Mitchell Point Tunnel.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is blasting through rocks that have kept the historic tunnel closed since 1966. It’s the final piece of their ambitious project to re-establish the entire, 77-mile long Historic Columbia River Highway as a bike-friendly and low-car route between Troutdale and The Dalles.
ODOT broke ground on this segment of this project in 2021 and the Mitchell Point Tunnel section broke ground in January. The historic tunnel was 390-feet long and ODOT’s project will nearly double that with a new 655-foot tunnel. They’ll also restore the famous arched windows so riders and walkers will be able to gaze out onto the Columbia River and the majestic expanse of the gorge.
ODOT engineers, staff and members of the Historic Columbia River Highway Advisory Committee recently toured the construction site and our friend AJ “Jerry” Zelada was one of them. Zelada sent us these photos and all we can say is “Wow!”. We cannot wait to ride through this tunnel!
For concept drawings that show what the finished tunnel will look like and historic images from when it was open, check out our 2020 story.
Follow updates on the project on ODOT’s website.
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Just did some digging. It seems there will still be 1 gap between Portland and Hood River after this, but each project has gotten things closer.
Slide 13 from the link in the story shows the gap remaining after Mitchell Point: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Projects/Project%20Documents/Open-House-Displays-HCRHMP.pdf
(Note that it took a little time for the slide show to load on my computer.) The gap looks to be less ($21 million) than the Mitchell Point segment ($31 million) so that leaves me optimistic that project financing will come…
Seems like a good place to ask, as of this year the gap will be from Exit 56 to 62?
More images at http://72km.org/mitcht/
And yes the completion of the Historic Columbia River Highway and Trail only has 1.6 miles to complete its connection to Hood River. Design stage is evolving. In addition, we need to replace the non ADA compliant staircase between Cascade Locks and Bonneville Dam.
If you haven’t ridden the Cascade Locks to Starvation/Viento section..time to do it. It is a beautiful ride with sweeping visits that might provoke visions of the Missoula Floods which created the Columbia Gorge!
I’ve been (breathlessly) watching the progress of the completion of this trail for two decades! It is one of my favorite routes. This is absolutely good news and it’s nice to see it having a (higher than I would normally expect) priority. WOO HOO!
Ok, this is it, the only ODOT road expansion project I support 😉
This is actually 1 of the last 3 pieces, albeit probably the heaviest lift of the 3. Viento to Mitchell Point is one and Ruthton Point to Hood River is the last one, also a heavy lift as it will have to go under I84.
They are making great progress here and it will be fantastic.
Credit where it’s due: gotta wonder how many 655ft tunnels are being built for bike / foot traffic anywhere in the world!
I’m not an Oregonian, just visiting. But I was wondering about the cost/benefit ratio for this project, considering the state of the economy here in Oregon and nationwide.