Mill Creek project will cause delays, detour
Drivers will travel by Kah-Nee-Ta and through Simnasho on a detour while U.S. 26 is closedGeneral Editor
March 20, 2002 — If you've got a plane to catch in Portland this spring, be ready for highway delays because traffic will be detoured through Simnasho while the Mill Creek Bridge is being repaired.
From March 31 to May 3, the Oregon Department of Transportation has slated a $1.8 million deck replacement project on Mill Creek Bridge, located on Highway 26, approximately 25 miles northwest of Madras. The contractor is Hamilton Construction Company.
The steel span bridge was built in 1949 with a concrete deck, which is deteriorating. The bridge deck will be replaced with a steel grid and concrete composite deck, and the roadway will be widened by a foot on each side.
Bridge closure times will be from midnight Sunday through midnight Thursday, with traffic allowed through on Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday. In order to complete the project as quickly as possible, bridge work will be done 24-hours a day during closure times.
ODOT is trying to alert car and truck drivers of the different alternate routes available when Highway 26 is closed.
Passenger cars coming into Central Oregon from Portland will be redirected to the road that goes to Simnasho and Kah-Nee-Ta and reconnects with Highway 26 at Warm Springs. Cars coming from Bend will enter the detour at the Kah-Nee-Ta turnoff in Warm Springs and follow the same route across the reservation.
ODOT estimates the detour will take motorists an extra 20 minutes
No trucks will be allowed on the Simnasho detour route, however, because of steep hills, curves, and free-roaming cattle and horses. Trucks traveling from Portland to Central Oregon will have to turn onto the Hood River highway (Highway 35) at Government Camp to connect with Interstate 84, then turn onto Highway 97 at Biggs Junction to get to Madras. The truck detour is 195 miles, compared to the regular 118 miles from Madras to Portland on Highway 26. The other choice would be to use the Santiam Pass.
According to ODOT statistics, the average daily traffic for the construction area in April is 3,700 vehicles, with 81 percent of that being passenger vehicles and 19 percent trucks.