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Sandlake Road Partially Reopens, After Cutting Off N. Oregon Coast's Pacific City for Months

Published 3/11/24 at 5:45 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Sandlake Road Partially Reopens, After Cutting Off N. Oregon Coast's Pacific City for Months

(Pacific City, Oregon) – Residents and regulars to the north Oregon coast town of Pacific City are experiencing a bit of a sigh of relief this week, as March 6 saw the partial reopening of Sandlake Road between Pacific City and Tierra Del Mar. No more lengthy detours to go north or south. No more stocking up on groceries if you lived just north of the clogged roadway. (Photo TCPW)

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Tillamook County Public Works (TCPW) announced the reopening last week, after it had been essentially shut down for months, after heavy rains and a landslide took out much of the road.

It's currently open as one lane only, with a traffic light regulating which side is open.

“Please use caution while navigating the road,” TCPW said.

Back on December 6, 2023, a large chunk of the rather small road slid away and caved in some 10 feet downwards, while other parts washed away over a cliff about 40 feet off the beach. It had happened right at the junction of Sandlake Road where it veers inland to meet up with Highway 101.

Photo TCPW

It cut off the direct route between the two little north Oregon coast towns, causing considerable extra time on an alternate route.

Nan Devlin, executive director of Visit Tillamook Coast, said it's very good news for the area.

“There will be automated traffic control to manage flow,” Devlin told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “That road is a shorter route from Tillamook to Pacific City. For people who live on that road, they had to backtrack several miles to Hwy 101 the south to Pacific City to get to work, the gas station or the grocery store.”

There’s more work to do but this temporary solution is a huge benefit, she said.

Owning one of the few businesses in Tierra Del Mar made this situation a pain at times, said Idyllic Beach Homes owner Susy Wolfson. She said it turned Tierra Del Mar into a town at the end of a long dead-end road.

Photo TCPW

“Everyone had to get used to completely stocking up on groceries, etc., checking in to see if neighbors needed anything when you went for an expedition into Tillamook,” she told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “Having no through traffic was lovely - reminiscent of the days when Pacific City was a sleepy fishing town no one had ever heard of – but I know everyone, including myself, was more than ready to rejoin the real world again.”

The fallen roadway wound up part of a true crime story.

In late January, Tillamook County sheriffs deputies responded to a 911 call of a car on fire and overturned at the break in Sandlake Road. There, firefighters, deputies and EMT's found the car upside in the cave-in spot and still burning. The unknown driver had not only ignored the barriers at a dangerous slide area but had plunged into the drop-off, some 10 feet down.

Photo Tillamook County Sheriff's office

The driver and anyone else who might've been in the vehicle were nowhere to be found, said Deputy Ben Berger, apparently fleeing on foot.

Also see Cape Meares Loop Rd. Reopens, N. Oregon Coast's Three Capes is 'Loop' Again After 10 Years

About an hour later, authorities received a 911 call that the car had been stolen sometime before the wreck. The caller lived about five miles away.

“The road has been closed for sometime, but they removed the barrier and road closed signs and drove directly into the hole,” said Deputy Ben Berger. “This has been an ongoing problem, with people removing the barriers and driving on the closed portion of the road. Obviously it is extremely dangerous.”

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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