COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE — ODOT will close the Historic Columbia River Highway next week for rockfall work near the Oneonta Tunnel east of Multnomah Falls.
The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire badly damaged the tunnel, a part of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Now, the rockfall work is needed to begin the process of repairing and reopening the tunnel.
Starting Sunday, Feb. 23, crews will begin scaling the hillsides adjacent to the tunnel to bring down loose rocks. This will reduce the threat of rockfalls and help ensure the safety of workers involved later in the tunnel repair project.
The hillside was burned during the fire, destroying vegetation and increasing the threat of rockfall.
Work is expected to begin at 8 a.m. Sunday Feb. 23 with flaggers controlling traffic around the tunnel.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23 the Historic Columbia River Highway will be closed around-the-clock to all users between Multnomah Falls and Interstate 84 exit 35 (Ainsworth State Park). The road will reopen by 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.
Visit TripCheck.com for 24/7 road conditions and closure information.
Access to Multnomah Falls
When the Historic Highway is closed for this safety work between Multnomah Falls and I-84 Exit 35 (Ainsworth State Park):
- Eastbound travelers can continue on the Historic Highway to reach Multnomah Falls, or use I-84 Exit 31.
- Westbound travelers cannot reach Multnomah Falls on the Historic Highway and should use I-84 Exit 31.
Restoring the tunnel
A second phase of work is planned to restore the tunnel itself. We anticipate this work beginning in late 2020. The tunnel will remain closed until restoration work is complete.
About Oneonta Tunnel:
The 125-foot tunnel originally opened in 1914, carrying vehicle traffic from the Historic Highway.
In 1948, ODOT bypassed the tunnel and filled it with rubble. In 2009, it was restored for bicycle and pedestrian use. In 2017, the Eagle Creek Fire burned the tunnel’s wood lining and it has remained closed since.