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U.S. 26: Mt. Hood Highway Safety Project*

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NEW - Virtual Open House

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Enter the virtual open house

 

A summary of the Jan. 21 public meeting in Welches will be available on Monday, Jan. 27 check back here for details.

 

ODOT Rebids Mt. Hood Safety Project

ODOT opened contractor bids for the U.S. 26 Mt. Hood Safety Project on Nov. 21 and found the bids to substantially exceed the funding available for the project. ODOT is working to reduce the scope of the project to fit within the budget and still meet the safety needs on U.S. 26.
 
The original project would have placed concrete median barrier along a 2.3 mile section of U.S. 26 from east of Kiwanis Camp Road to east of the Mirror Lake Trailhead. This requires widening the highway and addressing rockfall hazards by cutting back the slope from the roadway approximately 40 feet at the area known as Map Curve. Cutting back the rock face creates a catchment area for rocks from the slope to fall away from the road safely and widens the highway to allow placing the barrier. The project will also pave nearly eight miles of U.S. 26.
 
ODOT's design team estimates that the project will be re-bid in spring 2014. This means construction will begin in early summer 2014 instead of April.
 
More information will be available in January 2014.
 

Project Summary

The Oregon Department of Transportation is currently designing a project to improve safety by reducing severe crossover crashes that lead to fatalities and serious injuries and reduce rockfalls on the Mt. Hood Highway (U.S. 26) just east of Rhododendron and Oregon Highway 35.
 
 
Work will include:
 
  • Placing a concrete barrier between the east and westbound lanes of U.S. 26.

  • Cutting back the rock slope from the highway and building retaining walls to protect historic trails

  • Repave nearly eight miles of U.S. 26 from east of Rhododendron to OR 35
 
More project details will be availalbe in mid-January 2014.
 
 

Construction Impacts

   

Construction will begin in the late spring or early summer 2014. During construction, you will still be able to get to your favorite spot on the mountain or wherever you are heading. However, the reality is construction will delay people moving through the area. While we will have some short-term highway closures and there will be some delays, we will work to keep people moving.
 
Here is what to expect when construction takes place:
 
  • Travelers should expect closures up-to one hour three days a week Monday through Thursday in the early evening between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. for blasting the rock slopes. ODOT is still working the details to the exact time of these closures. Not all of these closures will take a full hour. However, it is best to plan on being delayed for an hour during these times. The closures are times based on how many vehicles are using U.S. 26 and on available sunlight. Nearby trails will also close briefly during the blasting operations.
 
  • Intermittent traffic stops lasting 20-minutes anytime the contractor is actively working
 
  • One lane closed between Kiwanis Camp Road and Mirror Lake around-the-clock for rockfall and retaining wall work. This means only one lane will remain open in each direction.
    (See photo to the right) Mt Hood Safety Project_Temporary Work Zone_Draft 8-23-13 (2).jpg

  • Increased truck traffic on U.S. 26
 
  • Intermittent single lane closures and flagging for other work instead of full highway closures.
 
  • Construction work will not occur on holidays and Sundays.
 
  • No construction work will occur from November to March of each year. During this time all three lanes will re-open.

 
 
Increased Truck Traffic
 
Nearly a million cubic yards of rocks and other materials will go to several disposal sites on Mt. Hood. These sites include: ODOT Maintenance yard at U.S. 26 and OR 35 Junction, Tamarack Quarry, Laurel Quarry and two sites along Lolo Pass Road. This means increased traffic on U.S. 26 and the roads leading to these disposal sites.
 
 
ODOT will make sure the roads leading to these sites are maintained during construction and will return to pre-construction conditions after work is complete.

Construction will only take place during the months of April through October. More details about how construction will affect travelers will be available in early 2014. Construction will take place for three years starting in 2014.
 

 

 

Crashes and Safety Concerns on U.S. 26

The Mt. Hood Highway is one of the most beautiful drives in Oregon taking travelers through the Mt. Hood National Forest. However, many safety concerns exist along this highway and many crashes have occurred. And sadly, some crashes prove fatal. crashmthood2.JPG
 
 
Crashes between a half-mile east of Kiwanis Camp Road to east of the Mirror Lake Trail Head (mileposts 49.4-52.2) from 2002-2011
 
109 crashes occurred
30 were cross-over crashes of which
11 crashes were head-on
4 people died
88 people were injured
 
 
 
 
 
The purpose of this project is to reduce the crossover crashes that cause severe injury and even death. Placing a concrete barrier in the middle of U.S. 26 can help reduce the most severe of crashes.
 
An independent team of traffic safety, emergency response, and highway professionals performed a Road Safety Audit of U.S. 26 between Camp Creek and Government Camp determined that placing a concrete median as well as reducing rockfalls and extending passing lanes would improve highway safety.
 
To learn more about the safety audit and crashes along U.S. 26 click here.

 

Schedul

  • Project Design– Currently under design
  • Advance and Final Plans – January 2014
  • Bid Award – March 2014
  • Construction Starts – Late Spring or Early Summer 2014
  • Construction Ends* - 2016
  • *subject to change based upon weather and site condition

 

 More Information 

Read ODOT's responses the written comments submitted to ODOT in the spring of 2013 from the virtual and in person open houses.

Written Public Comments from Spring 2013.pdfWritten Public Comments from Spring 2013.pdf

Read the frequently asked questions that we heard in the spring of 2013 and the responses from ODOT.
 
 
Review documents sent from ODOT to FHWA describing inconveniences and temporary closures to the Laurel Hill Chute, Mirror Lake and Pioneer Bridle Trails during construction of the U.S. 26 Mt. Hood Safety Project.
 
Virtual Open House from March 2013 explaining safety concerns and project elements:
 

 

Contact Information

 

For questions or comments about the Mount Hood Highway Safety Project, please contact: 
 
Kimberly Dinwiddie, ODOT Community Affairs

 

(503) 731-8281

 
 
*Official project name as noted in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan is FFO-US26: MP 49.2 - MP57.45