State Highway 202 is expected to reopen soon once a metal culvert that collapsed southeast of Olney last week during heavy rains gets replaced, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.
The culvert failed beneath the road near milepost 10.5 on Jan. 6 due to the recent wet and stormy weather, the department said. The road has been impassible and flaggers have been blocking travel. “It’s unsafe to cross,” Angela Beers-Seydel, a public information officer with the department, said.
“It looks like you could drive over it,” she said, “but it wasn’t designed to be a bridge, and right now, with nothing supporting it, that’s basically how it’s functioning.”
ODOT has hired a contractor to do repairs and hopes to have the road open this weekend.
Lewis & Clark Timberlands has given residents who live off Highway 202 access to a logging road during daylight hours to avoid the blockage. It can also be used for emergency services access.
“We accept a lot of liability when we open our property for any kind of motor vehicle access, but in an emergency, we viewed it as more important to serve our community than to have liability be the driving factor there,” Chad Washington, the stewardship and community engagement coordinator at Lewis & Clark Timberlands, said.
The closure has also interrupted mail service.
“It’s inconveniencing about 40 families,” David Enslow, who lives in the area, said.
Enslow said his neighbors, not knowing how long the road would be disabled, wondered if they would need to put up a campsite somewhere or get temporary living quarters elsewhere.
Beers-Seydel said it will take a bit of work to get the culvert replaced and that department personnel “appreciate people understanding that our goal is to keep everyone safe.”
“This time of year, especially with the weather we’ve been having, people just need to be extra cautious, because roads are open, but travel isn’t normal,” she said. “We still are seeing a lot of debris on the road, high-water areas and other issues.
“And so we appreciate just people being careful out there, driving with caution, and when they do see something, let us know.”