Closed section of Highway 101 will hopefully re-open Friday
Crews are now pouring gravel along the Hooskanaden Slide area in an effort to open at least one lane of Highway 101 north of Brookings— hopefully Friday.
The mountains around the closed road are scarred where black tar buckled when a massive landslide happened last Monday. The movement started relatively quickly, with land sliding around 30 to 40 feet in one day, according to Ryan Olson, District Operations Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
In total, he estimates the hillside has come down about 140 feet, taking much of the road with it.
“You stand here and you look at the scars up on the hillside, and how much the ground has moved when I leave at night to when I come back the next morning," said Olson. "It’s amazing to watch.”
Sliding has since slowed. Olson said the land moved about two feet overnight. That's allowed them to pickup work in an effort to reopen travel along the route.
“Our utmost priority is just to get this open, at least one lane, even if it’s gravel," he said. "It's kind of a big deal when it secludes Brookings from the rest of the coast."
From above, the massive slide resembles an earthquake. On the ground, it looks more like a construction site.
Olson said even when the road reopens, drivers should expect delays as crews add rock and repair the roadway. In the meantime, all traffic is being diverted through Carpenterville Highway.
The small, winding road was blanketed in fog and rain Wednesday, creating dangerous conditions— especially for big rigs looking to get around the slide.
While several residents along the highway said the detour had not affected them much, they did notice a major increase in traffic. The detour normally takes about 30 minutes to travel, but trucks slowing around curves in the bumpy road tended to increase that time even more.
“It makes it kind of tough to get fuel and a lot of things down to Brookings," said Olson.
The closure of Highway 101 is costing money for both Fred Meyer and their fuel supplier, who is being forced to transport fuel from Eugene via Redwood Highway. A driver said that means they aren’t able to take a full load, causing them to make more trips.
According to ODOT, this is the largest landslide southern Oregon has seen in at least 10 years.