historic columbia river highway
The Oregonian reported earlier this week that a jury has awarded more than $9 million to a couple who were hit by a truck driver while biking on I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge.
According to The O, the collision happened in 2016 when Eric Moutal and Andrea Newman (both from Vancouver, BC) were biking to Portland on the westbound shoulder of the Interstate about seven miles east of Cascade Locks (near Wyeth Trailhead at mile post 52). Eric suffered severe injuries to his leg.
When I read about this case, two big things stood out to me.
We are less than three weeks away from the opening of a new segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail: A 3.3 mile carfree path that offers stunning views of the Gorge. In fact, path users will have the opportunity to take in vistas that have been nearly impossible to see outside an automobile for over a century.
A six-mile stretch of the popular Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail that was closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire on September 4th of last year has finally re-opened. The news comes as the Oregon Department of Transportation opens a comment period on how to reduce congestion in the Columbia River Gorge.[Read more…]
Bummer news from the Oregon Department of Transportation: New rockslides have set back their plans to reopen six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway that have been closed since last fall due to the Eagle Creek Fire.
The slides happened on the section of highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park. As we reported last month, ODOT hoped to reopen that section of road with an experimental new lane configuration in September.
In a statement yesterday, ODOT Region 1 Manager Rian Windsheimer said, “This setback is a real disappointment to us. Our crews have been working hard to get these areas cleared. But there’s plenty to do before we can safely reopen the road.”
Video (below) of one of the slides near Horsetail Falls, taken by the US Forest Service, shows rocks rolling down a steep hill directly onto the highway.
“This is a great opportunity to try it and see how it operates.”
— Terra Lingley, ODOT Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator
They say when a fire strikes a forest it comes back even healthier than before. The same might be true for the Historic Columbia River Highway.
When a six-mile section of the scenic road reopens this fall following a one-year closure due to the Eagle Creek Fire, the Oregon Department of Transportation says it’ll have one fewer lane for automobile users. Referred to as the “phased reopening” plan, ODOT will limit automobile use to one lane in the eastbound direction for a five mile section between the Benson State Recreation Area/Hartman Pond (Exit 30) and Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). The westbound lane will be set aside for walking, rolling, and emergency vehicles (see map graphic below).
UPDATE: This post has been edited to reflect the fact that the State of Oregon has not technically “closed” the gorge to bicycling. People on bikes are still allowed to use I-84 (legally, from NE 238th east); but should be advised of work zone conditions. We regret any confusion the initial story caused.
The combination of fire clean-up and construction of new paths (ironically) adjacent I-84 has led to
a decision to prohibit bicycling warnings for bicycle users through a key segment of the Columbia River Gorge this summer.
An Oregon State Parks employee emailed us about the news last night and urged us to spread the word so that no one gets stuck. “What I have found is there is no way to ride through the Gorge this year — not even for those willing to ride on the shoulder I-84.”[Read more…]