The Oregon Department of Transportation is one step closer to opening Highway 224, the only remaining major route that is still closed due to the historic Labor Day fires in 2020.
On Jan. 26, the agency finished removing dead and dying trees that were lining the road, which posed a hazard to drivers. That marks the completion of a major phase of restoring access to the Clackamas River corridor.
But a great deal of work remains.
ODOT crews still have to clear the area of felled logs and other debris from the sides of the highway before replacing miles of charred guard rails, installing new signs and repairing sections of damaged pavement. Rockfall continues to be an issue along the corridor, as well.
The Riverside Fire, which is just one of several blazes that broke out during a windstorm in September 2020, burned nearly 140,000 acres—most of it located in the Clackamas River Ranger District of the Mount Hood National Forest. According to the U.S. Forest Service, flames wiped out anywhere between 80 and 90 percent of the trees across much of that land.
ODOT does not have an estimated reopening date for Highway 224. But the agency says that crews are working at least five days a week on that site. However, even when the road reopens, recreation will be limited. Most of the campgrounds and trails are likely to be closed for the foreseeable future since they were so heavily damaged by the fire.