HOOD RIVER — Several large boulders crashed down onto Interstate 84 eastbound approaching Hood River on Wednesday night, burying a car in the debris. The freeway was closed for several days so crews could clean-up several thousand cubic yards of rocks and debris that fell from a hill on the south side of the freeway.
Crews worked all weekend long and were able to open all but one eastbound lane on Sunday night. The right lane was blocked for a one-mile stretch near the slide closed until early Monday afternoon for final clean-up.
”We’ve been working non-stop in terms of scaling and hauling rock. We’re way past the 2,000 cubic yard mark of what we estimated came down. They’ve taken hundreds of truck loads out,” said ODOT’s Dave Thompson.
Scalers knocked down rocks that were sitting precariously on the hillside above to prevent another slide. Thompson says it could continue to be troublesome in the future.
He added: “We have two choices of where to build a road, either along the bottom of a valley which means it can flood, or along the side of a hill which means the hill can erode on top of it. Either way, mother nature wins.”
Daniel Koopman was driving east when he ran into the jam of rocks on the freeway. “I had the sheer terror. I thought ‘I’m going to get crushed’ and I bailed out of my car as fast as I could,” he told KGW.
The closure backed up traffic on Highway 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River and some truckers decided to wait out the closure in Troutdale.
This is the same stretch of I-84 where a boulder the size of a car fell onto the freeway last month.
Rosemary Reynolds contributed to this story