ODOT to reopen North Umpqua Highway Tuesday

Oregon 138E (North Umpqua Highway) is set to reopen at noon on Tuesday.

The highway has been closed two weeks due to the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires.

For the next few weeks, the highway will be reduced to a single lane in some areas between Swiftwater Park and the Oregon 230 junction (milepost 23-83). This will allow workers to remove hazards, address fire damage and assist in firefighting operations.

Pilot cars and flaggers will provide 24-hour traffic control at each location. Motorists traveling the length of the corridor can expect delays up to 45 minutes.

Visibility conditions may change quickly and many roadside hazards persist. Motorists are advised to drive with caution at a speed that is appropriate for road conditions.

Because of these potential hazards, motorists are requested to stay in their vehicles and avoid pulling over and stopping.

Despite the highway reopening, the Umpqua National Forest and BLM managed lands, including all recreational areas between Glide and Diamond Lake, remain closed to the public.

ODOT and partner agencies will need months to address the damage from the two fires. An estimated 7,000 to 10,000 hazard trees will need to be removed. The fire destroyed 100 of 255 road signs, damaged 5½ miles of guardrail, and affected more than 100 slopes, increasing the potential for rock slides over the winter.

Damaged trees

Some motorists driving through the corridor will see large trees and wonder why they are being cut down. We understand these concerns and want to leave as many trees standing as possible, but thousands of trees, many that look healthy, pose a risk to the traveling public.

In some cases, dead trees do not turn brown right away. Trees that look undamaged from the road can be heavily burned on the far side. Fires sometimes burn the root structure and weaken a tree even though the trunk looks undamaged.

For more information, contact ODOT Public Information Officer Dan Latham at 541-817-5200 or Dan.Latham@odot.state.or.us.

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