WALTON, Ore. - One of busiest routes to the Oregon Coast is shut down west of Walton.
Highway 126 near milepost 24 is out of business at least until Friday afternoon (Dec. 21), thanks to a cascade of rocks, mud, trees and other debris
that covered the roadway.
It's 500 to 700 cubic yards of debris and no one is getting through.
"We don't know exactly what triggered it, but it is the coast range, and that's landslide territory and when you have as much moisture in the soil as we have right now,
that can often precipitate or trigger a landslide," says spokesman Rick Little of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Little says the slide nearly hit an ODOT snow plow rig around 9 a-m, but the driver is safe.
Mid-way through the KVAL interview we got more than we bargained for, right after Tom Adams posed the question, "Are we close to where there was a previous slide?"
A sharp cracking sound right above the highway startled both Adams and Rick Little. Tom: "We're hearing more activity up the hill here." Rick: Well, what you have right now is you
have a very heavy snow on these tree branches so that can trigger the tree branches to snap--which is probably what we just heard. It can also trigger weaker trees to snap
as well so the main thing is--we finish this interview and get out of the slides way."
Little explains ODOT geotechnical experts moved in this afternoon (Dec. 20) to test the ground first to see if conditions are safe to begin clean up.
Crews determined the slide area is stable and a contractor will go in Friday morning to begin the clean up.
Additionally--3 miles east of the main slide, we found a smaller secondary slide (blocking the westbound lane), right where we had driven our KVAL car 30 minutes earlier.
Until 126 is reopened (estimated for Friday afternoon) the detours continue at Poodle Creek Road (near Noti) on the west end and Highway 36 at Mapleton.