PORTLAND, Ore. — Construction along Interstate 84, near mile post 51, east of Cascade Locks has nothing to do with fire recovery.
It’s part of a multiyear project by Oregon’s Department of Transportation to build a bike and hiking path that stretches 73 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles.
ODOT will connect the Historic Highway 30 to foot paths that cars and trucks cannot drive. It will link the present to the past.
“As the years went along, highways got busier, cars got bigger, and eventually the interstate highway went in right at the river level, and many sections of the old historic highway were abandoned,” said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton.
Now they're being reconnected with attention to detail.
The posts on the 500-foot-long Summit Creek viaduct are called pilasters. They're nearly identical to the posts built more than a hundred years ago on the highway.
The viaduct and a nearby bridge are solid.
The pilasters on bridge weigh 25,000 pounds each.
The pathway is so sturdy it is planned as an emergency backup if anything happened to I-84.
The viaduct has a viewing platform at the top so you can stop to catch your breath, only to have it taken away by the incredible views of the Columbia River and Dog Mountain on the far side.
Bike riders and hikers love the idea.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea. We’ve had one for years where I’m from and, I really like it. It’s a great idea. I can’t see why anybody wouldn’t want one,” said Shawn Paris, visiting from California.
When this section of work is done, 65 miles of the 73 miles will be finished.
But that doesn’t mean it will all be open. ODOT released video of rockfall along the historic highway at Wahkeena falls.
The rocks roll down continuously for 40 seconds.
Its why a six mile stretch of the Historic Highway from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth Park remains closed.