Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

I-84 Through Gorge Staying Closed Through Weekend, SR 14 Open And Flowing

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Variable message signs and flaggers are up to enforce the temporary no semi-trucks rule on SR 14 in the western Columbia River Gorge.

The Eagle Creek fire has littered a section of Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge with fallen trees and rocks and there are scores more hazard trees that should be cut. 

Oregon's Department of Transportation says will the freeway will stay closed at least through the weekend—possibly longer.

On the Washington side of the river is Highway 14. It’s a narrow, two lane highway that hugs the north bank of the Columbia River. It remains open although there are wildfires in its vicinity too.

There's no way Highway 14 can pick up the slack for the closed I-84. Fortunately, it looks like drivers are heeding the official advice to avoid non-essential trips. Traffic on Thursday evening was heavy, but mostly flowed close to the speed limit during a drive from White Salmon to Washougal and Camas.

It helps that semi-trucks are not allowed on this stretch for now, and enforcement of that was present at both ends.

For trucks the closest bypass to the north of the burning Gorge is a mess, but not because of fires. Repaving of U.S. Highway 12 necessitates alternating one lane traffic on both sides of White Pass causing delays of a half hour or more. 

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.