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Highway 62 reopens following rockslide

Highway 62 near Prospect is back open following the cleanup of a massive rockfall that injured a driver last week, the Oregon Department of Transportation reported.

The agency reopened all lanes at 9:07 a.m. Saturday, ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said. Road crews cleared multiple boulders and other debris from the highway following a landslide that occurred Jan. 28.

David Kirkland, 30, who had been driving on the road in heavy rain and fog, struck one of the boulders. He sustained injuries but was released from Rogue Regional Medical Center the same day.

An inch of rain fell during a 72-hour period near Prospect, with 1.72 inches documented at a site north of Union Creek during the same period, according to the National Weather Service. Saturated soils are something to keep in mind while driving in the region, Leaming said.

“A lot of it is just being aware that you’re in an area with lots of cuts, hillsides that are very close to the highway,” Leaming said. “Slopes, that kind of thing.”

The slide closed the road in both directions, but road crews quickly reopened a travel lane, with traffic being led by flaggers and a pilot vehicle. More clearing work and intermittent closures followed last week. Efforts included the use of explosives to break up the larger stones.

“The blast went perfect. The blast could not have been any better,” said Dan Metz, ODOT transportation manager for the High Cascades. “It went up, came down lightly on the road, stayed in place.”

ODOT crews also removed about 30 trees and knocked some loose rocks from the slope.

“They moved those big rocks onto the shoulder, into the ditch line, if you will, and that’s where they drilled them and blasted them,” Leaming said.

In March 2017, ODOT used explosives on a 12-foot-tall, 200-ton boulder that blocked both lanes of the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway east of Glide.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

Highway 62 near Prospect is open after a rockslide was cleared by ODOT crews.