Transportation Managers Assess Highway 126 Landslide

January 20, 2012

UPDATE: Highway 126 is open.

By Jessica Debbas

VIDA, Ore. — The wet weather has activated two main landslides — one off Highway 36 toward Mapleton and the other on Highway 126 east of Vida.

Highway 126 is still closed between Vida and Blue River due to that landslide and there is no estimation yet when it will reopen.

All day, experts have been assessing the danger of the slides and looking for the best way to prevent more landslides.

Worries were still high Friday morning that the hillside was still too unstable.

“There’s a lot of weight on the hillside when it’s wet like that. There’s a lot of trees that will fall over,” said tree trimmer Monte Ramp.

That’s why experts called in 78-year-old Ramp.

“When they have danger trees, they call me,” Ramp said.

Ramp has been doing timber work for several different local agencies for 50 years. So transportation managers know he can get the job done with nothing but his chainsaw.

“You just going to climb up there?” I asked.
“Sure. Unless you carry me,” Ramp said.

Ramp climbs up the hill cutting down the trees that could reactivate the landslide.

He does it strategically so he doesn’t end up ever going down with it.

“You don’t go underneath it. You go one side and come back to it,” Ramp said.

Like Ramp, residents around the area don’t seem too concered about the slide.

“I think it’s kind of typical here, the soil gets saturated and trees come down. You can’t maintain everything that nature grows so if rocks or gravel or even the high water comes over the road, you just have to drive carefully,” said McKenzie River Inn owner Hubertina Deklerk.

They say all you can do is work around the weather and be ready for any natural disaster.

“They do their best maintaining the road and we should just be prepared for it every single winter,” Deklerk said.

Even though signs said the higway was closed Friday, flaggers were letting people drive through at their own risk after warning them of the danger.

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