CORVALLIS, Ore. — A portion of Highway 34 near Corvallis closed by flooding reopened Friday morning, with two westbound lanes open and one eastbound lane open.
The bypass lanes remained closed, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Motorists should travel with care, ODOT warned. Shoulders of the highway are badly damaged.
Parts of Western Oregon remain submerged beneath floodwaters but rivers have started to recede after days of rain.
Floodwaters had spilled over Highway 34 on Tuesday and several inches of water still sat on the road on Thursday.
River levels are expected to continue receding through the rest of the week.
“It’s unique, kind of intriguing. Frustrating,” said Sean Arey, Trysting Tree Golf Club general manager. “But we designed the golf course knowing it was going to be flooded occasionally.”
If you've been around long enough, you may compare this amount of water and flooding to the year 1996.
"I’ve been here 28 years and this is the fifth time I've seen it come over the road,” Arey said. “We haven’t had this extent of a flood except for twice in ’96: February and November.”
“It's a pretty good one,” Gary Petersen, who’s lived in Corvallis since 1971, said.
Archive video: 1996 floods in Oregon, Southwest Washington
The Willamette River in Corvallis was just over flood stage Thursday evening, with the river still rushing high and spilling over its banks.
Trees and branches were swept downstream, catching and building up on the sides of the river or meandering on.
Flooding is occurring in this region of Oregon due to a couple factors: there has been a lot of rain over the past couple weeks, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to release water from its reservoirs because the dam system was overwhelmed with run-off and precipitation.
A Benton County public information officer says emergency responders made three swift water rescues this week. Fortunately, none were made Thursday as levels receded.
Aerial video shows water seeping into businesses, homes and pastures in the flood plain. Rising floodwaters turned homes and farms into islands.
“There's a hill over there that's completely under water,” long-time Albany resident Jeff Senders said as he showed us the expanded Willamette River from his backyard. “All that is normally not under water and it is now. And so, again, the water has come down quite a bit but it’s been a mess. The only things happy are the geese and ducks.”
"It is a little hard to get out of town,” Petersen said. “It’s interesting. It’s a lot better than it used to be."
Drone video: Flooding on Highway 34 in Corvallis
It's an especially bad time for water on Trysting Tree Golf Course.
"This is going to be a clean-up issue for us. There might be minor damage, most of it non-impactful to the golf course, as it plays,” Arey said. “The biggest thing is loss of revenue at this point in April.”
This is normally one of their busiest weeks with the Masters Tournament beginning Thursday. Unfortunately, the only access to the golf course is Highway 34.
"That’s part of our lifeline to get out here and for the community. I think people have already found the struggles of getting to and from I-5 on Highway 20 and having to go south on [Highway] 99,” Arey told KGW. “I've never seen - in all the years I've seen these types of floods – water go that far east on Highway 34 with the back-up of the river going over the highway.”
A KGW crew drove into Corvallis on Highway 20 – currently one of the only ways in and out of town - and traffic was backed up for miles. Drivers say it took up to an hour and a half to get from Corvallis to Albany.
Fast-moving water eroded the shoulders of the highway pretty badly, ODOT said. Crews will be working to repair it for the next week, building the shoulders back up, removing debris, and cleaning out culverts.