Hwy 224 reopens east of Estacada after 2020 wildfire damage

Published: May. 1, 2022 at 10:33 AM PDT
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - Highway 224 has opened again east of Estacada after being closed since the Labor Day wildfires in 2020, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

ODOT opened the highway on Sunday after completing final cleanup needed to make the route safe after the wildfires. The agency said the extent of the wildfire damage was staggering, keeping 18 miles of Highway 224 closed. It worked with the U.S. Forest Service, Portland General Electric and private contractors to reopen the road.

“This was a really difficult stretch of road to get opened again. Not only was it a very long stretch that was hit by wildfire, but it was very steep and is a rocky area. There was a lot of work that needed to be done before we could get this section of road open again,” said Don Hamilton, a spokesperson for ODOT. “There were a series of wildfires across the state that shut down state roads. This was the last one to reopen again because this was so long, so steep, and burned so heavily in this area.”

A tree marked for removal after the 2020 Labor Day wildfires.
A tree marked for removal after the 2020 Labor Day wildfires.(ODOT)

ODOT said recovery work will continue after the road reopens. This summer, there will be road closures of up to 20 minutes at various locations, seven days a week. There will also be trucks loaded with debris, rock scaling work and asphalt being repaired.

“There are going to be occasional closures, maybe as long as 20 minutes, all the way through the Clackamas River Corridor and 224. Really all throughout the summer, 7 days a week. It’s going to be pretty extensive as a lot of work still remains to be done. A lot of debris trucks will still be going in and out of the area, there’s going to be a lot of trees hauled out of the area, there’s going to still be a lot of work underway this summer,” said Hamilton.

ODOT said the work involved:

  • Clearing miles of ditches of the debris left by the fire.
  • Repairing and replacing 11 miles of damaged and destroyed highway guardrails at 11 sites.
  • Removing tens of thousands of dead and dying danger trees that threatened the road.
  • Replacing scores of highway signs destroyed by the fire.
  • Installation of restraining mesh to help hold back future rockfall.
  • Rock-scaling to bring down loose rocks from the steep hillsides, work that continues this spring.

Also on Sunday, the Forest Service opened Hole in the Wall and Moore Creek boat access day sites and Big Eddy day use site. All other recreation facilities managed by the Forest Service in the Clackamas River corridor will remain closed at least through the remainder of the year.