Gorge businesses struggle with I-84 closure; ODOT working to reopen highway

Image: KPTV

There are plenty of people struggling with the Interstate 84 closure due to the Eagle Creek Fire.

Business owners along the highway said the Columbia River Gorge seemed like a ghost town over the weekend.

“I mean, yesterday people were looking around and walking out of their businesses and looking up the street and going, is anybody here? And that really hurts,” said Chris Ellison, manager of Andrew’s Pizza in Hood River.

Ellison said revenue is down 50 percent from this time last year.

“It’s been pretty sleepy, either people staying home because of the smoke or not coming to town because they can’t get here,” said Nikki Smith of Doug’s Clothing Store.

People from the Portland area can still get to Hood River on Highway 26, but it adds around 30 to 40 minutes to the drive.

The Oregon Department of Transportation reported Monday that westbound I-84 lanes will reopen as soon as it’s safe. The eastbound lanes are expected to need at least another week to complete rock scaling and removal operations.

ODOT said the area is still an active fire zone and there is the potential for dangerous tree and rock slides due to the fire.

Business owners just hope customers come back once I-84 is open again.

“I’ve been asked by people, ‘Are you laying anybody off?’” said Ellison. “You don’t want to lay anybody off, but it could get tight.”

Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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