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Local gridlock eases as Kane Drive reopens

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Northeast Kane Drive was re-opened to vehicle traffic Wednesday, Jan. 13, a little over a month after a flooded Kelly Creek caused the roadway to collapse in a washout. Virtual cheers exploded on Facebook on Wednesday when Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis used his social media page to tell residents that Kane Drive, a major commuter road that has been shut down since Dec. 7, would re-open Thursday morning.

The closed road diverted more than 30,000 cars a day to thoroughfares such as Hogan Drive and Stark Street, clogging up the surrounding streets and causing huge traffic delays.

With steam rising from freshly poured asphalt on Kane Drive as a backdrop, Bemis announced on Wednesday, Jan. 13, that the road “should be great for your morning commute.

“On behalf of the City Council, I want to thank you for your patience. We know that this was no small inconvenience to a lot of our families,” Bemis said. “I want you to know I’ve never been prouder of the city of Gresham. These folks have worked so hard 24 hours a day through weekends to get this road back open again.”

Kane Drive washed out on Dec. 7 as Gresham saw nearly six inches of rainfall in a 72-hour period. Substantial debris flows in Kelly Creek blocked the culvert beneath Kane Drive, causing water levels to rise several feet above the culvert entrances, washing out the soil above the culvert and below the roadway, resulting in a hole about 140 feet long, 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

The temporary solution for the road involved replacing the collapsed 112-inch culvert with two new 72-inch steel culverts.

A permanent solution will come this summer, when the road will be partially closed again.

“Considering the level of damage done and continued inclement weather, I would say 30 days is a laudable time for reopening the road,” wrote Jarrod Lyman on the mayor’s public Facebook page.

“Hallelujah!” exclaimed Nancy Falconer

Brad Roos, another commenter, said “Awesome news! Thank you to everyone involved in getting this project completed so quickly.”

Elizabeth Coffey, the city’s communications manager, said the city will monitor the road frequently “to make sure something doesn’t happen like what happened on Dec. 7.”

“For the past five weeks, there has been nothing more important to us than getting your commutes restored to normal,” Bemis said. “This was one of Gresham’s largest transportation emergencies ever, and we know that the lengthened commutes took time away from your families and your busy lives.”

To get Kane Drive reopened, contractors had to move about 16,000 tons of material. Dump trucks made nearly 800 trips to and from the site to excavate and deliver rock, gravel and supplies. In just over a month, trucks traveled more than 7,500 miles, which equates to more than seven trips from Gresham to Disneyland in Southern California.

Now that the road is open, the city will continue to work with experts to design a permanent solution and engage in a competitive budding process to select a contractor.

Construction will likely take place during the summer when the creek flows are lower and weather conditions are more favorable.

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