Tidewater Contractors and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews widened the gravel roadway at Hooskanaden Slide 12 miles north of Brookings, but it won’t be open to two-way traffic until early April and won’t be permanently fixed until October.
According to Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) spokesman Dan Latham, the road is now 32 feet wide and movement in the center of the slide has slowed to about an inch an hour.
The roadway there slid — in some instances, lurching down the hillside — after a fierce winter storm dumped more than a foot of rain on the area in late February, taking out a quarter-mile of U.S. 101.
For two weeks, drivers were detoured over Carpenterville Road — the original highway — until the ground stopped moving and crews could start placing and grading more than 32,000 tons of rock and gravel in the gaping maw to bridge the gap.
“We’ve got less and less movement, which is good, but we’d prefer to see a little less before we pave,” Latham said. “And rain is coming in next week; we want to see how that might affect movement on the hillside.”
Once the area is stabilized, crews will pave and paint the road, he said, allowing for two-way traffic.
“They’re concerned about opening it to two lanes because then we’ll have people racing through,” Latham said, “When they do that, they’ll start tearing up the road surface.”
Surveyors were seen all over the hillside this weekend collecting information for a more permanent solution.
Some of that work involved collecting LIDAR data, which is similar to radar, but can “see” through dense brush to the geographic formations that make up the lay of the land.
That data will help engineers determine what parts of the slide are more stable and assist in creating the best plan for the new road.
“There’s so many things,” Latham said. “Design drainage — they need data. A lot of things are still up in the air. It’s a very ambitious schedule. Fingers crossed, we can do it in late summer.”
Processing that information, however, will delay construction, Latham said.
He said crews might be able to start rebuilding the old alignment through the area by late August and ideally, have the road finished in mid-October.
Flaggers will direct traffic through the area until further notice.
“We deal with (slides) over and over,” Latham said. “You put (on) a Band-Aid, but it only works for a generation. I don’t think we can get a permanent fix. We get the road open as best you can; I’m not sure you can do much beyond that.”