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Originally published February 13, 2014 at 10:34 PM | Page modified February 14, 2014 at 9:35 AM

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Landslide makes for slow traffic on I-84 along Columbia Gorge

A landslide that is blocking most of Interstate 84 along the Columbia Gorge won’t be cleared in time for weekend travel.


The Associated Press

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HOOD RIVER, Ore. — Traffic will crawl along Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge through the weekend because of a landslide at a cliff near Hood River, Ore., transportation officials said.

Traffic was down to one lane westbound on Thursday, with eastbound traffic blocked. It’s expected to be that way until at least Monday, the officials said.

Eastbound motorists and truckers were told to try detour routes north, where much of the detour is off-limits to oversize loads, and south, where snow and rain could await travelers.

The I-84 landslide started at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Its volume was estimated at 2,000 cubic yards.

“You can still hear the rocks tumbling down, and it’s the most eerie thing,” spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie of the Transportation Department.

Dan Koopman, of LaGrande, said he was headed home from a meeting in Salem when the rocks started smashing the front of his car.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to get crushed,’ and I bailed out of my car as fast as I could,” he told KGW-TV.

He jumped over a barrier and got away from the slide with just a few sore ribs. His car was totaled.

“I am just so unbelievably grateful,” he said. “I just look at the car and the rocks. And some of them were far larger than my car.”

The Transportation Department plans to have a contractor send up workers called scalers who will use a mountaineering technique, rappelling, to descend the cliff and knock the remaining loose rock, so it won’t be a danger, Dinwiddie said.

The hope is to clear the road enough to open an eastbound lane Monday, she said.



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