MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV) -- Last month the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) said it would need to remove 100,000 trees along Highway 22 in the Santiam Canyon after fires tore through the area.
Now ODOT Public Information Officer Lou Torres says crews have already removed more than 25,000 trees that were primarily dead or trees that were in the road.
"We're meticulously working on removing as many of these hazard trees as we can," Torres said. "We want to do that before we are able to open the road so people can safely use the corridor."
Torres says right now there are pilot cars leading caravans into Detroit and Idanha because he says the roads aren't safe to reopen after the wildfires.
Those caravans he says are primarily for residents.
"My suspicion is that once we do get a lot of this done we're still going to be running pilot cars quite a while because even besides the hazard trees we have miles and miles of guardrail to replace, hundreds of signs to replace and just other kinds of repairs that are going to need to be made," Torres said.
Then there's concerns about upcoming winter.
"We're going to start getting heavy rains and that's going to compound the issue because all those trees were holding those soils and rock and so forth," Torres said. "We don't those trees anymore so we're going to see rockslides, mud slides a lot of debris on the roads over the course of the next few months."
Torres says ODOT has already started work to mitigate erosion as we get into those rainy months.
"There's so much unpredictable about this that we just know that we're going to have issues, we're going to have to be ready to respond to those and we're going to have to educate the public about them as well," Torres said.
ODOT says it is working with contractors to do some of this work and ODOT is paying for that.
ODOT says there's no timeline on when the work will be done on Highway 22.
Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.