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Stretch of Highway 224 near Estacada, which has been closed for 17 months, set to reopen May 1

The 19-mile stretch of highway has been closed since the area was ravaged by the Riverside Fire in September 2020.
Credit: KGW
Nineteen miles of State Highway 224 near Estacada, Ore. have been closed since Sept. 2020 for repairs caused by the Riverside wildfire.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 19-mile stretch of Highway 224 east of Estacada that has been closed since the area was ravaged by the Riverside Fire in September 2020, finally has a reopen date, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced Wednesday.

In a news release, ODOT said the plan is to reopen that stretch of Highway 224 to traffic on May 1. ODOT said drivers should still expect delays at times through the summer as work continues on the highway, but barring unexpected circumstances, the road will finally reopen, 19 months after it was shut down.

In Wednesday's news release, ODOT said there's still a lot of work to be done before the highway reopens, including "removing stacked trees, road repairs and repaving."

The reopening of Highway 224 will be a welcome relief for the community of Estacada. The closure of the highway blocked the way to recreation areas in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Because the city of Estacada relies so heavily on tourism for its local economy, the closure has limited cash flow to the area.

RELATED: 'We'll get it opened as soon as we can': Highway 224 closure hurting Estacada businesses (January 2022)

There are many reasons for why it's taken so long to get the highway back open. According to ODOT, thousands of trees had to removed and hauled out, miles of new guardrails had to be installed, damaged signs had to be replaced, ditches had to be cleared and holes in the pavement had to be patched.

"We have probably more than 100,000 trees that are going to have to be pulled out of there," said ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton in October 2020. "Every tree that's within striking distance of the road is dead or dying. And we're going to have to haul all of those out of there."

RELATED: Highway 224 to remain closed, possibly for months due to wildfire damage (October 2020)

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