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Rock scaling operations on OR-224

Crews on Highway 224 are just a few weeks away from completing hazard tree removal on Highway 224 in Clackamas County, but the complicated task of making the highway safe for travel doesn’t end with hazard trees.

Of the hundreds of thousands of trees that burned in the catastrophic Riverside Fire, about 25,000 that were dead or dying and within striking distance of the roadway had to be removed. Removing these trees was challenging, with thousands of them perched high above cliffs – some even in protected wilderness areas – and needing to be assessed by drone and removed by helicopter.

But the fire itself, accompanied with the trees falling during the fire and during the removal process, increased the already persistent rock slides in the area. To mitigate the long-term risks of rock fall on the highway, crews will be reinstalling rock fence and rock fall barriers. Before the fencing can be installed, however, crews have to climb up the loose and rocky hillside to perform rock scaling, or removing the unstable rock using hand tools.

This video, taken last week at milepost 36.5, upriver from the Moore Creek Boat Launch, shows the type of rocks these crews are knocking onto the road:

To complicate matters, crews discovered last week a log jam in the rock chute – the naturally occurring land formation that generally guides the rock falls and erosion toward one location. With the instability caused by the log jam, crews had to cease operations temporarily until a helicopter can be brought in to remove the logs and clear the chute.

Once the rock scaling is complete and the new fencing is installed, maintenance crews will begin the next tasks of repairing the heavily damaged roadway and replacing the guardrails.

Highway 224 is still on track to open by the end of the year.



Wildfire waste and debris removal

The State of Oregon is working with federal, state and local partners to remove hazardous waste, and ash and debris from the 2020 Oregon wildfires safely, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. The Oregon Departments of Transportation, Environmental Quality and Emergency Management are leading the effort, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistance.

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