HIGHWAY 242 SCARRED BY 2017 WILDFIRES
May 3, 2018
OLD MCKENZIE PASS: Bicyclists entering Hwy. 242 from the east have seen it and next month motorists should view it too - a landscape littered with burned trees. The Old McKenzie Highway remains closed for the season after wildfires heavily burned the area the previous summer. The Milli Fire, which started on August 11th, burned a total of 24,000 acres on the east side of the Old McKenzie Pass adjacent to the scenic byway.
Access from the west will continue to be closed until at least the end of next week, according to Lou Torres, public information officer with the Oregon Dept. of Transportation in Salem.
“The opening is set each year on the third Monday of June,” Torres notes. “In this case, it is June 18th. However, it could open later depending on how much snow needs to be plowed and how much rock, trees and debris need to be cleaned up.”
Crews are currently working on the road. “I have heard that the summer fire season did cause more damage along the route than usual and it could require some extra work to get it cleaned up,” Torres added.
On the Sisters side of the scenic byway Torres’ counterpart in Bend said that when crews are working on rehabilitating the roadway, gates block access to everyone. “When the sign says, ‘Closed,’ it’s really closed,” according to ODOT’s Peter Murphy. The work schedule runs from Monday through Thursday.
Even when the closure signs are down, Murphy cautions that, “Anyone who goes up on a cycle is on their own - ‘Open” is not really open, in our terms.”
ODOT is hoping to be done with all road work by the middle of May. Highway 242 will continue to be closed while national forest and ODOT officials work together to remove danger trees from the roadsides.
ODOT image: Cyclists and pedestrians are now able to access the Old McKenzie Pass from the east on weekends. Closure signs are up Monday through Thursday due to heavy equipment working in the area. ODOT is hoping to be done with all road work by the middle of May, in anticipation of a scheduled June 18th reopening of the route.
McKenzie River Reflections