The Federal Highway Administration said it was making available $1 million in "quick release" emergency relief funds to help the Oregon Department of Transportation make
repairs on roads and bridges swept by wildfires that began in July and were still a threat this month.
"We want to help Oregon begin the repairs needed to get traffic back to normal throughout a dozen of its western counties," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson.
"These funds come at a critical time," said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. "Wildfires have decimated over 600,000 acres of land in Oregon, including roads and highways, impeding commerce and Oregonians' ability to move around the state."
He added that the FHWA funds would help the Oregon DOT "begin to repair the damage."
The FHWA said Sept. 19 that "at least six wildfires have significantly impacted Oregon's transportation system, including the Eagle Creek fire which forced the closure of several miles of I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge two weeks ago. Much of that segment remains closed, due to continued fire danger and ongoing emergency work to perform hazard tree removal and rock scaling."
Its emergency funds, the agency said, "will make it possible for workers to more quickly begin repairs and restoration of essential traffic throughout Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Lane, Linn, Marion and Multnomah Counties."
The state DOT also warned – in a
Sept. 16 update on the Eagle Creek fire – that burning out the underbrush in mountainous areas increases the risk of slides onto area highways, so it was assessing long-term slide threats to Interstate 84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway.
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