Construction on repairs of U.S. Highway 101 in the Hooskanaden slide area north of Brookings is scheduled to begin later this summer, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

The slide began the week of Feb. 25, closing both lanes of the highway and diverting traffic to Carpenterville Road — the only travel alternative.

A single lane was built by Tidewater Construction in March; two lanes were opened in May.

The two lanes sit atop a temporary roadway, however. ODOT spent about $1 million for the temporary repair, which closely bypasses the original slide area.

“We are concentrating our efforts on a project that will return the highway to its original pre-slide alignment, including three lanes and two shoulders,” said ODOT spokesman Dan Latham.

Officials said bids for the repair project will be issued in August, with construction beginning later that month and continuing until October.

“We expect that most construction will not impact existing traffic,” Latham said, “since the original alignment we are rebuilding is upslope from the current travel lanes.

“After we build those new lanes, we will tie in the permanent alignment with the highway at either end of the project area.

”When we do that, we will have lane closures.”

Latham said there will be two lanes of traffic flowing on the current temporary highway alignment during the first six or eight weeks of construction. That work will take place 50 to 100 feet up the slope.

“In early or mid-October, we will start to see lane closures, with flaggers, as we connect the new, permanent alignment to the highway at each end,” he said. “As part of the project, we will also be re-establishing the surface-drainage system, which was affected by the February slide.”

Latham said ODOT expects that the project will cost $3.5 million to $4 million, with the money coming primarily from federal emergency relief funds.

The February slide has affected the flow of emergency services and caused an economic trickle effect in Brookings and Gold Beach.

Cal-Ore Life Flight CEO Dan Brattain said EMS guidelines require ambulances to transport emergency patients to the nearest hospital. The detour to Carpenterville has caused delays in getting patients to the emergency room, he said.

Meanwhile, Coast Auto Center president Ron Walker said his business has seen disrupted deliveries of parts and vehicles. Walker said customers have been upset that their new vehicles could not be delivered as promised, or their vehicle could not be repaired due to delays in receiving parts.

Curry Public Transit (CPT) has suspended bus service between Brookings and Gold Beach, and modified the Coastal Express routes coming from North Bend/Coos Bay to turn around at Gold Beach, according to an official statement.

CPT reported that from Feb. 25 to March 11, its service was discontinued or altered because Carpenterville Road was being used as an alternate route and posed dangers from its “narrow, winding, irregular road surface and the constant presence of chip and logging trucks, large delivery vehicles and RVs taking up more than their own lane around curves.”

During a presentation about the slide earlier this year, Brookings City Councilor Ron Heneskpog noted the land has been sliding at Hooskanaden for years.

He called the area a “land glacier” and said he was told nearly 200 feet of earth sits on top of bedrock there, “a phenomenal amount of dirt, a phenomenal problem.”  

Three possible long-term solutions presented by ODOT during the presentation included an upgrade to Carpenterville Road as a reliable alternative route, a mitigation of the slide at Hooskanaden, or construction a two-lane suspension bridge.

The bridge reportedly would cost an estimated $350 million, the upgrades to Carpenterville Road $440 million and the mitigation of the slide $302 million.  

“It’s not likely any of these three options would meet a cost/benefit analysis,” South West Area Commission on Transportation chair Gary Milliman said. “Any of these options is well beyond the capacity of any existing state highway funding program.”

Milliman sent a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission seeking a “preliminary feasibility study for a new, permanent solution to the Hooskanaden slide.”

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