I-84 closure hits hard for commuters and truckers

ODOT is working to reopen westbound lanes first

I-84 remains closed nearly two week after the Eagle Creek Fire broke out and damaged dozens of trees along the highway. (KOIN)
I-84 remains closed nearly two week after the Eagle Creek Fire broke out and damaged dozens of trees along the highway. (KOIN)

TROUTDALE, Ore. (KOIN) — The gateway to the Gorge is still closed, forcing commuters, truckers and all commerce to find a way around.

Those detours are coming at a sizable cost to many like truck driver Mac Heyl, who missed a pickup on his route Tuesday.

“It’s an economic impact. It’ll hurt my paycheck,” Heyl said. “It might be all day to get loaded tomorrow. So I don’t know how much time I’m going to lose because of the gorge being closed. But it affects everyone.”

I-84 will stay closed until it’s safe

Greg Allen with Brown Roofing in The Dalles is also taking a hit.

“It’s made it harder for us to get into the Gorge,” Allen said. “We do roofs and we do repairs and we are not able to do any repairs right now.”

With the highway’s closures, travelers have to skip the flat and straight path for the winding and steeper route that goes down and around Mt. Hood, through Highway 26 and 35.

“Now I’m having to go all the way up over [Highway] 26 and adds quite a bit of time,” Allen said. “It’s very windy, it’s mountainous and has a couple of steep grades on it.”

The detour adds about 3 extra hours to the drive and more time wasted means more money lost.

The impact goes beyond economic and professional inconvenience. Shawn Paul said the detour around Mt. Hood has been so unpredictable, it cost him time, money and now his job.

“It’s hard on my bike,” Shawn Paul said “Gas wise, I’ve been spending twice as much on gas. I’ve already missed worked twice, third time I lost my job.”

It might be while before the gates reopen, but the Oregon Department of Transportation is working to clear damaged trees and falling rocks that threaten the safety of travelers on I-84. Crews are working to reopen westbound lanes first.

“Pretty stressed out,” Allen said. “I’m sure there are a lot of hot heads but you just gotta keep your cool and play along with it.”