Hwy. 242 to open on Monday

 

After a long winter, crews have cleared McKenzie Pass, and the gates will open for all travelers on Monday, June 19th. The Old McKenzie Highway, also known as OR 242, closed for the winter season on November 1st last year.

Drivers on this winding road need to be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians, as this is a popular scenic route for many types of travelers. Vehicles longer than 35 feet are prohibited from using the highway due to its sharp, narrow curves.

Private funding built the highway in the 1870s for use as a wagon toll road, and the pass became a seasonal scenic highway in 1962 with the completion of Oregon 126. Even during its tenure as the main route between the southern Willamette Valley and Central Oregon, the narrow, twisting roadway and high elevation (5,325 feet at the highest point) made the highway too difficult to maintain and keep clear for much of the year.

Each year, the Oregon Dept. of Transportation plans to close the highway the Thursday after Veteran's Day and open it the third Monday in June. Snowfall times and amounts may change those dates.

When ODOT crews gate the road, it is closed to everyone and is not maintained. ODOT does not open it early for cyclists or pedestrians. Even after the snow melts each spring, workers have a lot of work to do before the road is safe for travel. Each winter trees come down and the heavy rain and snow move rocks and debris onto the road. All of this is cleaned up and the pavement is patched before it reopens.

 

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