Highway 395 to close for 10 days in November

JOHN DAY — Highway 395 South will close in November for about 10 days while crews work to improve two culverts at Sheep Gulch and Vance Creek.

The closure — beginning Nov. 4 until Nov. 14 — will span between milepost 5 and 17, near where the two culverts are located.

No local detours will be made available. The Oregon Department of Transportation will work to accommodate nearby property owners and emergency services.

Travelers will need to use alternative routes during the closure, and are advised to stay on main highways due to potential winter weather.

ODOT spokesman Tom Strandberg said crews will replace the existing culverts with larger and wider box culverts that will more easily handle a flooding event. Because of the widespread damage caused by the 110,000-acre Canyon Creek Complex fire, there is concern that a mudslide or flooding could result in Highway 395 being closed temporarily.

“The Forest Service is expecting some potential major flooding issues because of the erosion due to the fires and all of the trees and brush that were burned out there,” Strandberg said. “The culverts are considered to be insufficient for water flow.”

If the culverts are not replaced, Strandberg said, storms and floods could possibly close Highway 395 S for much longer than 10 days.

“It’s unfortunate, but the bigger concern is if we don’t take care of this now, it could be closed for a month or more,” he said.

ODOT officials will discuss the closure plan with residents at the Grant County Court meeting Wednesday.

Grant County and state transportation officials are working on an agreement that would keep the county’s 16 Road open through the winter in case Highway 395 South is closed.

The 16 Road is a low priority road for the county and is often closed during the winter due to high snowfall.

Grant County Road Department Supervisor Alan Hickerson is working with ODOT officials on an agreement that would allow the state to ensure 16 Road remains open if Highway 395 is closed this winter for any reason.

“We are planning on trying to keep 16 open just in case a mudslide or something like that happens and 395 south is closed,” Hickerson said. “It was the state’s idea and I think it’s a great idea.”

The agreement would call for ODOT to maintain 16 Road from Seneca to Summit Prairie Road until Highway 395 is reopened, which would allow motorists to use the county’s 62 Road to reach Prairie City and John Day.

Reporter Sean Ellis contributed to this report

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