Weather causes 24-truck crash; Oregon, Washington close highways

Jan. 19, 2012
Transportation officials closed a stretch of U.S. 26 near Government Camp, OR, as crews cleared 24 semi-trucks, many of which jackknifed, from the area. Severe weather in Oregon Wednesday caused several accidents and closed highways throughout the state

Transportation officials closed a stretch of U.S. 26 near Government Camp, OR, as crews cleared 24 semi-trucks, many of which jackknifed, from the area. Severe weather in Oregon Wednesday caused several accidents and closed highways throughout the state.

The same is true in Washington state, which declared a state of emergency following a heavy ice storm after days of snow. Major highways across Washington state have been closed and hundreds of thousands of people are without power. The storm is expected to continue until late this afternoon with warming conditions returning overnight and into Friday. Truck drivers are urged to check often for road closures because conditions are changing so rapidly.

The Washington State DOT has recently announced the following major highway closures, but truckers are advised to check for updates on these closures and also to use caution seeking detours, since many secondary roads are also closed due to fallen trees, downed power lines and blocking collisions.

I-90 is closed from Ellensburg to Easton (milepost 106 to 70) because of a collision

I-82 is closed near Kennewick because of collisions

SR 18 multiple trees blocking roadway in both directions

SR 202 all lanes blocked both directions by fallen trees

SR 121 closed indefinitely

SR 410 from milepost 22-39 downed trees blocking all lanes

SR 16 eastbound at Military Road all lanes blocked by fallen trees

In Oregon, many of the 24 semi trucks involved in the Government Camp accident reportedly jackknifed on the highway due to the weather. The highway was closed in both directions most of the day Wednesday between milepost 60 and 62, about three miles south of the intersection with Oregon 35, according to the Oregon Dept. of Transportation.

“It’s crazy,” said Don Hamilton, an ODOT spokesman told OregonLive.com.

In another weather-related crash, the Yaquina Bay Bridge was closed in both directions Wednesday morning after a tractor-trailer rig was tipped over by high winds. The bridge, which carries U.S. 101 over the bay, was closed for several hours.

Downed trees and debris from high winds also closed two highways in Lincoln County Oregon. ODOT was working to clear the highway blockages but some locations couldn’t be cleared until after winds abated.

The Salmon River Hwy. 18 was closed between milepost 6.5 on the west and milepost 21 on the east. Siletz Hwy. 229 was closed nine miles north of Siletz between mileposts 15 and 16. Hazardous trees and vegetation made the highway too dangerous to travel, according to ODOT.

Motorists are being encouraged to be alert for falling trees, debris, mudflows and other events associated with the current storm in the area.

Several Benton and Linn County toads are also closed due to high water, and flood warnings have been issued for the Marys and Luckiamute rivers.

Several roads around Benton County have high water and may be difficult to travel, according to the Corvallis Daily Gazette. As rain continues to fall and high-elevation snow melts, rivers were expected to reach their highest levels today.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Luckiamute Rivers from Thursday afternoon to at least Friday afternoon.

The ODOT urges travelers to carry extra supplies that include food, water, cell phone and charger, blankets and traction devices and be prepared for unanticipated delays and road closures.

Road closure information will be updated at least daily during this period. Motorists are urged to check the Benton County Public Works website or call the Benton County Public Works Road Department 541-766-6821 for the most recent updates.

Oregon Dept. of Transportation information can also be found at www.tripcheck.com for state highways.

About the Author

Deborah Whistler, contributing editor, and Wendy Leavitt, director of editorial development

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