Old McKenzie Pass

Motorists may gain access to Scenic Route in mid-June

OR 242 MP 72

OLD MCKENZIE PASS: With over 30 feet of snow still to get through at the top of the Old McKenzie Pass (Hwy 242), Oregon Dept. of Transportation crews have a lot of work ahead of them.  
The most recent report from Oregon Department of Transportation says plow operators have been clearing a travel lane but caution motorists to be patient and remember that workers are up there daily to make the highway travel safe. They made more progress this week, but one driver said this is the hardest snow he’s seen in years, as there’s lots of ice mixed in. Though rising temperatures will likely help, it’s entirely possible the scenic route won’t be open for motor vehicles until June 19th, or later, this year. The earliest opening date for motorized travel is set for the third Monday of June, which has been the average opening date over the last 25 years.

Photo Courtesy ODOT. An rotary plow was near milepost 72 last Thursday, where about seven feet of snow lay ahead. It had taken three days to clear about two miles.

SkateboarderMCKENZIE BRIDGE: After starting out in Newport, Oregon, on September 14th, the First Electric Skateboard Crossing of America headed up the Old McKenzie Pass last Friday. During the “Big Climb,” Jack Smith went from 1,700 to 5,200 feet in elevation over an 18-mile stretch.
Smith’s journey is designed  to draw attention to, and raise funds for Board Rescue, a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing skateboards and safety equipment to organizations that work with underprivileged, at-risk and special needs children. It  is sponsored by Evolve Skateboards, the leading manufacturer of electric skateboards in the U.S.
Over the McKenzie area stretch, Smith said the boards, “Performed great, ascending and descending.” On flatter ground he reports traveling as far as 27 miles on a single charge. For more information on the charity, go to: boardrescue.org

Hwy 242 debrisMCKENZIE BRIDGE: At 8 a.m. on June 20th, highway crews opened the snowgate for motorized traffic to cross the Old McKenzie Pass.  

Plowing 242MCKENZIE BRIDGE: Depending on the weather, Oregon Dept. of Transportation crews plan to finish clearing snow off Hwy. 242 this week and then clean up debris like downed trees. The first snow gate at milepost 61.8 will open by the end of the day on April 21st to allow fishing at Linton Lake for the high lakes season. Officials estimate the second gate at milepost 66 will remain closed until June 20th.  Clearing is beginning on the west side as well.
In the interim, some people will be able to use the route. “ODOT reminds bicyclists and hikers who access the Pass during the seasonal closure do so at their own risk and are cautioned to be aware of the inclement conditions,” according to ODOT public information officer Angela Beers Seydel.  “Safety precautions for early users include plowing operations that may occur at any time of the week, road conditions can be icy, running water, rocks, tree debris and other hazards on the roadway, ride under control, watch for other bikers/hikers, closed gates, parked equipment, etc.”

Hwy. 242 closesWith approximately 6 inches of snow already accumulated on the west side of the McKenzie Pass Highway, and more snow expected through the week, the Oregon Dept. of Transportation has closed OR 242, west of the summit, for the season.
The highway was closed to through traffic at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 10th, from the junction with 126 to milepost 76.7, three-quarters of a mile west of the Dee Wright Observatory. Access to the observatory will still be available from Sisters until additional snow accumulates on the eastern roadway.

Cascade winnersFlorenz Knauer, Francisco Mancebo and Dion Smith at the finish line awards ceremony. Mancebo (Canyon Bicycles) and Kristin Armstrong (Twenty 16-ShoAir) won the men’s and women’s opening stage respectively of the five-day Cascade Cycling Classic on Wednesday.

Atop Hwy. 242The year 2014 was the hottest on Earth in 134 years of record-keeping, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, continuing a pattern of global warming that is attributed primarily to rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Oregon was not exempt from the warming and logged the second hottest year since records were kept beginning in 1895, according to researchers with the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University.

 

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.