Falling boulders block Highway 62 near Trail
TRAIL — Early Thursday morning, a shower of rocks and small boulders temporarily blocked the eastbound lane of Highway 62 between Joseph H. Stewart State Park and Peyton Bridge, near milepost 34.
The dispatch call came to Fire District 4's Shady Cove headquarters just before 3 a.m.
"Luckily, no one was injured," said District Fire Chief Bob Miller. "This first significant rain apparently loosened the rocks up and dropped them on the highway."
One firefighter responded from the district's Lost Creek substation at McGregor Park and two more rushed to the scene from Shady Cove.
"9-1-1 knows that we can get out there pretty quick and flag it until (Oregon Department of Transportation crews) can get there," Miller said. "We put flares out and blocked the road with our engine."
Within 25 minutes, ODOT workers responded from their Prospect maintenance station and cleared the road with a plow.
Miller said the largest rock was about the size of a V-8 car motor.
"We're fortunate that it was 3 o'clock in the morning and there wasn't much traffic," he said. "Thankfully someone took the time to let dispatch know about it."
It was the second report of falling boulders received by the fire district during the night.
"At 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, barely north of Shady Cove," said Miller, "people hit a big rock, flattened a tire and bent their rim."
No one was injured in that incident, but the car had to be towed away.
"It's not unusual to get some rock fall when you have that freeze-thaw cycle and then some rain," said Gary Leaming, ODOT project information specialist. "That's kind of normal winter operations — Mother Nature cutting loose on us whenever she wants."
Leaming said drivers need to be aware of what's going on around them.
"These kind of incidents happening, especially at night, when the visibility is reduced, are very dangerous and can come out of nowhere," he said.
Leaming said motorists should check driving and road conditions on ODOT's TripCheck.com website before traveling in winter weather. He also recommends the winter driving tips and information available at www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/winterdriving.shtml.
Freelance writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at email@example.com.