WALTON, Ore. — ODOT crews are still working to get Highway 126 open, after a massive landslide blocked all four lanes Thursday morning.
ODOT officials returned to the landslide site Friday morning to find that the mess was even bigger than they had originally thought. The tree on the very top is probably the biggest one that they’re dealing with. They say it’s more than six feet in diameter.
“Obviously you can’t predict every aspect of a landslide, and I think the fact that this thing doubled in size surprised everybody,” said Rick Little, ODOT spokesman.
The larger the slide, the longer the timeline to get it thing cleaned-up. ODOT had hoped to re-open the highway by Thursday afternoon, but with this slide as complicated as it is colossal. Besides the huge old-growth tangled in with all the mud, project managers think there could be road damage as well.
“We know we had some damage here with a large tree, which hit the asphalt and knocked a big chunk of the asphalt off. What we don’t know is if there is any damage underneath the massive part of the slide. We won’t know that until we can actually see the asphalt underneath it,” Little said.
For now, crews have to worry about clearing this more than 1,000 cubic yards of debris off the highway through the combined efforts of ODOT and Florence-based coast roads.
“We hired a contractor to approach the slide on the west side from Florence, and ODOT is approaching it here on the east side, and hopefully we’ll get it cleared up,” Little said.
ODOT officials say it could take all night, but they will get Highway 126 open. They hope to do that in time for those traveling Saturday morning.
With that truly unknown timeline, we suggest anyone with travel plans should take the detours through Highway 36 or an alternate route.