ODOT: Hwy 22 could reopen Friday, a week after deadly fuel truck crash, fire
IDANHA, Ore. - Highway 22 through the Santiam Canyon could open by mid-day Friday, the Oregon Department of Transportation said Thursday.
"Lots of folks are asking when it will reopen," ODOT said in a Facebook post Thursday. "The short answer is as soon as it’s safe for travel."
The road has been closed since a fuel truck crashed and caught fire, killing the driver and setting nearby trees on fire last Friday. The crash spilled 11,000 gallons of gasoline onto the road and into the river. The crash and fire damaged a stretch of road as long as a football field.
The Santiam River supplied water to Salem, Oregon's third largest city behind Eugene. Residents briefly used an alternate water source.
"Crews have been making good progress despite extreme weather conditions and working in a narrow and winding area of the Canyon," ODOT said in a statement.
"Most of the environmental clean up has been completed," according to ODOT. "Crews now must grind away the old pavement, pave it over and install new guardrail before the road can be opened to travelers."
Drivers have been encouraged to use alternate routes. Highway 20 is a good option for passenger vehicles; cars and larger trucks alike can use Highway 126 or Highway 58.
Motorists should NOT rely on smartphones, GPS or other navigation systems: Oregon State Police said motorists have been stranded after following directions onto Forest Roads in the area.
"You may not be aware that there are significant environment regulations that have to be followed when we have a spill of this magnitude," ODOT said in a statement. "The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Quality and the hazmat cleanup company hired are the lead on what is required of the cleanup effort. While ODOT is eager and anxious to open the road, we have rules and laws that must be complied with.
"Keeping the highway closed allows people to work safely and actually helps get the work done faster."