Asit Rathod knows Mount Hood.
The final season of the $25 million Mt. Hood Safety Project on Hwy. 26 will start up once the snow has melted, with rock-blasting, road-paving and the construction of a 1.6-mile concrete barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes of 26 west of Skibowl.
Under the original plan, road crews will begin drilling for blasting starting the week of March 28 and re-striping U.S. 26 to one lane in each direction after April 1st. But several feet of fresh snow this week may alter that plan.
The goal of the three-year project is to improve safety during the final portion of the drive up to Mount Hood by widening lanes, installing a concrete median barrier, building a ditch to contain falling rocks and re-paving the highway from Silent Rock to OR 35.
Last year crews from K&E Excavating managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation dug up 289,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt, drilled 67,000 linear feet of blasting holes, went through 51,000 pounds of blasting explosives just up the road from Silent Rock, installed 6700 feet of rock bolts to stabilize slopes and added 2600 tons of asphalt to U.S. 26.
This year they plan to build a retaining wall to protect historic Pioneer Bridle Trail, construct a concrete barrier between the east and westbound lanes, improve drainage and pave an eight-mile section of U.S. 26 extending to the intersection with Hwy. 35.
The project is focused primarily on the safety of the highway in the sloped, curvy area west of Skibowl. It does not address widespread traffic concerns about congestion between Hwy. 35 and Government Camp during peak weekends, nor does it add westbound lanes.
As you can see from this map, the concrete barrier will extend east from the Map Curve past milepost 50.
Starting after April 1st, Mt. Hood travelers should expect:
For more information visit ODOT's virtual open house page.