ODOT Says It Will Take Time To Re-Open Highways In Wildfire Zones

Sep 16, 2020

Several state highways are still closed due to wildfires in Oregon. Transportation officials are urging drivers to be patient.

It’s not just active flames that keep a road closed. After the fire is contained, road crews have to go in and clear away fallen trees and other debris. They also have to check bridges, culverts, pavement and road signs for damage.

ODOT says it will take time to check highways for hazards before they can re-open.
Credit Oregon Department of Transportation

The Oregon Department of Transportation says it has to assess literally hundreds of thousands of trees alongside the road the make sure they’re not in imminent danger of falling. Spokesperson Katherine Benanati said that will all take time.

“I know people want to get back to normal," she said. "Our priority is to make sure that they are clear, and we’re not sending anybody into harm’s way.”

Even after roads are re-opened, drivers should expect delays as ongoing repairs can slow traffic through wildfire zones.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 250 miles of state highways were still closed due to wildfires, some of which are still actively burning. The closed highways include portions of Highway 22, Highway 99, Highway 126, Highway 138, Highway 211, Highway 214, Highway 224, and Highway 242.

In addition, US 199 near the Oregon-California border was closed due to an active wildfire.

Earlier Wednesday, ODOT re-opened Highway 18 just east of Lincoln City, as crews get a further handle on the Echo Mountain Complex Fire.

ODOT says the best source of up-to-date road closure information is its website, tripcheck.com.