SPRINGFIELD— ODOT crews and contractors are working at a breakneck pace today to get OR 58 open following record snowfall and hundreds of trees that fell on the road and downed power lines. The City of Oakridge, 40 miles east of the Eugene-Springfield area, has been without power stranding residents and workers since Monday morning.
The OR 58 corridor, which connects Interstate 5 with U.S. 97 in Central Oregon, has been hit particularly hard. ODOT crews, contractors and timber fallers have already removed over 200 trees ranging in size from 12 inches to 3 feet. There are still many more trees to remove.
ODOT has moved crews and resources from other parts of the state and have hired a number of private contractors to help with the job. There is still no estimate when the road will be passable.
“Our immediate goal is to open a lane of traffic that will be a lifeline for the Oakridge community so we can move food and supplies, and allow the power company into the community to restore electricity,” said Jim Gamble, ODOT District 5 Manager in Springfield.
Crews are working at each end of OR 58 to open the highway. The 70-mile stretch of road travels over Willamette Pass and is an important route for east-west travel across the state.
Yesterday, during the snow storm, crews were forced to retreat twice due to the heavy, wet snow dropping these trees around crews causing multiple near misses and vehicle damage.
“Due to the extreme safety concerns we were forced to pull back our crews,” Gamble said. “Today, with the calmer conditions, we hope to make a lot of progress toward opening the road.”
Other areas of Lane and Linn County are still reporting fallen trees and downed power lines. While the major closure is OR 58, other sections of area roads still contain heavy snowfall and some fallen trees. Travelers should leave extra time when traveling and expect winter driving conditions.
Crews worked hard late yesterday and overnight to plow as much of the snow off the roads before sub-freezing temperatures hit the area. Crews also used sand, deicer and some salt in certain locations.
For updates on traffic, go to www.TripCheck.com or call 511.
Press release provided from the Oregon Department of Transportation.