Landslide forces closure on Historic Columbia River Highway


Scientists are being brought in for further research on the slide

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Drivers were told Tuesday to avoid the Historic Columbia River Highway due to a small landslide that closed the road in both directions for a roughly three-and-a-half mile stretch.

The closure is from the Bridal Veil interchange and the Multnomah Falls parking lot. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, the closure is expected to last until at least Wednesday as a safety precaution while crews work to determine if the slide suggests a more serious threat.

“The amount of the slide isn’t really our concern this morning but we do want to be careful that this slide material doesn’t indicate a problem farther up on the hillside,” said ODOT Spokesperson Don Hamilton. “The most important thing we can do is make sure there’s no other threat to this section of highway.”

Potential heavy rain in the forecast could create more of a problem. ODOT was temporarily diverting the water to a nearby culvert.

“We’re going to be very, very careful about this,” said Hamilton. “Considering the rain we’ve had recently, considering the after effects of the Eagle Creek fire and considering this is a very common slide area even in the best of circumstances. We’ve got to make sure this section of road is still safe.”

The way they ensure the road is safe will depend on what type of conditions the crews find.

“We’re not sure what that’s going to require,” said Hamilton. “If there are dangers on the road we’re going to have to find out how bad the dangers are, if there’s any mitigation that we need to do — if there are no problems we’ll get it open promptly.”

A geologist and hydrologist are also being brought in to do further inspections, according to ODOT. They were concerned the potential for additional landslides could grow. A smaller slide hit the same area in 2017.

This landslide came just days after Portland saw it’s largest landslide in two years, which has shut down West Burnside on Friday. That closure is expected to last through the end of the week.

Over in Yamhill and Washington counties, various roads were closed due to high water and flooding. One man was rescued after driving his car into 12 inches of water on Southwest Bellevue Highway on Tuesday morning. Parts of Fern Hill Road and Stringtown Road were shut down, as well.

(AP) — Rockslides triggered by unrelenting rain have closed local roads and highways around Oregon, including a highway near Crater Lake National Park that was closed Tuesday after two boulders the size of a small living room crashed down, narrowly missing a passing car.

The giant boulders fell from a hillside that has endured pounding rain and repeated freezing and thawing of the rock due to harsh winter conditions, said Gary Leaming, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The driver of the Toyota SUV came around a curve on the windy and rural highway near Prospect, Oregon and swerved to miss the first boulder, but crashed into the second.

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