Big River Construction and scaling company Triptych were tapped to make emergency repairs to a landslide that occurred on U.S. 30 on Nov. 27 that saw 10 truckloads of rock and mud dumped on the highway, approximately 20 mi. east of Astoria.
(Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation)
Crews from Big River Construction are working to clear debris from a landslide that has closed part of U.S. 30 near Astoria in northwestern Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Transportation estimated the landslide dumped 10 truckloads worth of rock and mud on the highway approximately 20 mi. east of Astoria, The Oregonian reported. The road is a major east-west thoroughfare that connects Astoria to Portland.
"This was a large landslide compared to other landslides that we get in the coast range," said ODOT Maintenance District 1 Manager Mark Buffington. "The rock was definitely larger than what we are used to. We usually just get mud and trees. It was more than 1,000 cubic yards of material. We have two scaling crews instead of just one. It's much taller [higher] than the slides that we are used to having."
The landslide has blocked more than 100 ft. of roadway and was likely triggered by rain and strong winds, the agency said in a news release.
The slide of the rocky hillside occurred around 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 at milepost 74 east of Astoria. At the time, the debris left on the U.S. 30 closed the road in both directions.
ODOT said it has removed a commercial truck that was caught in the rubble but that it still needs to be towed. The truck was the only vehicle damaged in the landslide, and no injuries were reported.
"It is too dangerous and complicated to run traffic during the day," Buffington said at the time of repairs. "We are attempting to bring in another team of scalers hoping to double our efforts."
Crews removed approximately 650 cu. yds. of debris from the road surface the following two days after the landslide – representing approximately one-quarter to one-third of the rock and soil from the landslide.
Work remaining before one lane can reopen:
- Removal of the two large sections of hillside that are on the verge of sliding and large enough to block the entire highway;
- Clearing enough debris on the road surface to provide space for crews to continue work and to catch any new smaller rock slides;
- Repairing guard rail damage, any pavement damage and setting up a single lane detour with flaggers for alternating eastbound and westbound traffic flow.
While repairs are ongoing, ODOT said that it has reopened one lane of the highway, but more time will be needed to fully open U.S. 30 to travelers. Crews have made progress on cleaning up debris, but they still must repair pavement damage and remove two large sections of hillside that are on the verge of sliding. An ODOT geologist identified the sections, which would be big enough to block the entire highway again should they fall, the news release said.
"There is no estimated date when we can reopen additional lanes due to the amount of material that needs to be removed," ODOT said in a statement. "We are continuing to scale large sections of loose rock that are on the verge of falling, as well as the debris from the original landslide."
On Dec. 11, ODOT released an update that said one of lane of U.S. 30 between Astoria and Clatskanie has reopened.
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