Landslides still covering roads around Portland area, some won’t be cleared for days


Portland's largest landslide of the season in the West Hills is proving to be a challenge for cleanup crews and drivers alike, with officials saying the area is still not safe.

The cleanup has only just begun, and unfortunately, the road signs directing traffic to detours aren't going anywhere, at least for a few days, because the threat of landslides is still very real.

Crews say the stretch from Skyline to Barnes will remain shut down through the weekend, and the earliest they say it will open up is Wednesday morning.

Officials say they are bringing in special equipment to help with the cleanup of the big mess Mother Nature left behind, especially a deep crack that continues to grow and shift.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has brought is a special excavator with an extra-long arm that can remove tree roots and debris from the hillside, but the digging has just begun, meaning the area will still be closed for days.

PBOT officials note the reason for the cautious approach is that the area is dangerous and the landslide risk is still too high.

Though PBOT crews have responded to 42 landslides so far this winter, this one is proving to be the most challenging. The conditions keep changing, and more rain means more problems.

While PBOT crews hope to have the road reopened by Wednesday that is not a guarantee. They will monitor the area over the weekend to watch for further slides.

The large slide backs up to the Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, which runs the cemetery, says no gravesites have been compromised, but a soil engineer has been hired to recommend short and long term steps to stop other slides.

There has also been a contractor hired to cover the slope with plastic and sandbags.

Both SR 503 in Washington and the Historic Highway in the Gorge both remain closed due to slides as well.

Crews say it is too soon to tell when SR 503 will re-open near Woodland, and the Historic Columbia River Highway has seen five slides in four days. It will remain closed between Multnomah Falls and Angel's Rest until at least Monday.

There are also dozens of people still impacted by a landslide in Kalama, which is forcing more than 100 families to take a very long detour, turning their 20-minute drive into an hour and 20 minutes.

The slide came down Wednesday on Kalama River Road, but neighbors say the hillside was bulging before it gave way.

Crews said they weren't sure if the landslide was still shifting and they're not sure when they'll be able to clean it up.

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