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Rock blasting on I-84 west of Hood River starts Thursday

Rock blasting and highway work will lead to delays on Interstate 84 near milepost 53, starting Thursday.

Drivers will see rolling slowdowns between 12:30-2:30 p.m. Oct. 5 for rock blasting needed to build the latest segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, between Wyeth and Lindsey Creek.

The announcement came in an Oregon Department of Transportation news release.

Delays Thursday, which could last up to an hour, will be the first in a series of up to seven closures ODOT is announcing in the coming weeks for controlled blasting in the area.

They will take place about once a week through mid-November. Exact dates will be announced in advance of each blast.

In each event, crews will use a carefully calculated amount of explosives that will have no impact on removal of Eagle Creek fire debris at Shellrock Mountain, a mile west of the trail work. That’s the same work area where eastbound traffic is temporarily diverted into one lane of westbound I-84 due to fire debris removal from the Eagle Creek fire.

The historic highway endeavor involves a bench cut near Lindsey Creek, which requires blasting to create room for the trail in the existing rock slope.

Due to the danger of explosives, the rolling slowdowns will create a window where no cars are in the work zone during blasting operations. After the blasts, crews will remove rock debris from I-84 before safely reopening the highway.

Thursday's work will be a test blast — smaller and used to test the behavior of the rock before larger blasts take place.

Engineers from both ODOT and Western Federal Lands, the construction project manager, are carefully studying the area in order to make any needed modifications to the trail design to safely construct the trail while taking into consideration fire-related hazards.

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