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County doesn't close Dead Indian Memorial Road

When is the last time Dead Indian Memorial Road was closed because of snow?

— Judy, Talent

The short answer is that Jackson County road staff have no memory of ever closing Dead Indian Memorial Road because of snow, said Mike Kuntz, an engineer for the county.

But the road sometimes "self-closes" because of crashes during snowy and icy conditions, he said.

Long trucks have been known to lose control of their trailers on hairpin curves, but those types of crashes haven't happened since the county placed truck length limits on the road two years ago, Kuntz said.

He said the county doesn't close county roads because of snow. Instead, the county leaves it up to motorists to decide whether it's safe to proceed given the vehicle they are driving.

The county does have a sign at the bottom of Dead Indian Memorial Road that flashes three messages depending on conditions — "Carry Traction Devices," "Chains Required Over 10,000 lbs." or "Chains Required All Vehicles."

The county plows the road when snow gets deeper than 3 inches during daylight hours, but it doesn't plow after dark. Snow can accumulate beyond 3 inches at night or during the day when heavy snow is falling and plows can't keep up, Kuntz said.

The summit of Dead Indian Memorial Road is roughly 1,000 feet higher than the 4,311-foot elevation of Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5.

Because of the elevation, the condition of the road can be worse than the Siskiyou Summit. The road surface is often packed ice, which can last for two months, Kuntz said.

He reminded all motorists to carry traction devices from Nov. 1 through April 1, be prepared for all conditions and always drive in a manner that is appropriate for road conditions, the weather and the vehicle you are driving.

If in doubt, don't drive. Mistakes can be deadly, he said.

— Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.