Additional screens to be installed

Road officials do not expect any more closures at the site of a June rockslide just south of the Stark Street bridge in Troutdale, said Larry Olson, district manager for Oregon Department of Transportation, at a recent public safety meeting in Corbett.

Work on the rock face is just about finished, Olson said, though crews likely will install additional screening to protect the roadway should any rocks fall in the future.

Once work is officially complete, a concrete barrier installed at the foot of the rock face will be removed.

ODOT said it removed 4,400 cubic yards, or more than 364 truckloads of debris, from the Historic Columbia River Highway where the slide occurred Thursday morning, June 5.

“It wasn't a safe slide,” Olson said.

The historic highway was closed to all traffic between Woodard Road and the Stark Street Bridge for more than three weeks while crews worked to clear debris from the road.

Crews used a high-reach excavator to stabilize the hill side and bring down loose rocks in danger of falling.

Workers also patched the road where debris covered the entire highway and put in a temporary 8-foot fence. Officials inspected the cliff to make sure it was safe before reopening the highway Tuesday, June 24.

Fred Gullixson, senior engineering geologist for ODOT, told The Outlook the stretch of highway has always been an issue for falling rocks, and there have been a number of rockfalls over the years.

The chain mesh covering the rock face was installed some 15 years ago after the last large rockslide covered the Historic Columbia River Highway on the east side of the Stark Street Bridge.

“The mesh is really only designed to contain small rocks up to two feet in diameter,” Gullixson said. “The big rocks barely notice the mesh is there, and they just plow right through it.”

Two giant boulders were removed from the middle of the road, along with smaller boulders, rocks, pebbles and brush.

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