STEAMBOAT, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Transportation said Route 138E is now open to traffic between Steamboat and Slide Creek after a lengthy closure that began when the Jack Fire began spreading through the area.
ODOT said earlier this week it hopes to reopen the 138E freeway by this weekend as the Jack Fire now burns away from the corridor. The agency said that despite the fire’s proximity to the freeway, it caused relatively little damage compared to the fires that preceded it.
“The fire burned through steep, rocky terrain, but we didn’t have as many large fallen trees on the highway as we’ve seen in previous fires,” said Jeremiah Griffin, district manager by interim ODOT.
Crews were working to remove several dangerous trees and other debris left along the roadway with the aim of reopening by this weekend.
“Reopening a freeway after a wildfire is a balancing act,” Griffin said. “We are working closely with our partners in any post-fire assessment and weighing the safety of the public and workers on the timing of reopening.”
Burnt signage and burnt sections of the guardrail are being assessed for possible replacement. Griffin urged drivers to be careful as the freeway reopens, to watch out for crews and to expect delays due to slower speeds in the burned area.
ODOT said motorists can also expect frequent delays throughout the summer between Idleyld and Steamboat (milepost 21-38) and near Diamond Lake (milepost 76-80) due to roadworks. rehabilitation from last year’s Archie Creek and Thielsen fires.