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Night Closures Coming in January for Tunnel to North Oregon Coast
(Banks, Oregon) – Highway 26 towards the north Oregon coast will experience some nighttime closures at the Dennis Edwards Tunnel in the coast range, starting in January. The tunnel is about 35 miles west of Portland, and will be undergoing some construction and refinements, resulting in it being shut down to traffic on weeknights from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. (Above: construction on Highway 26 this summer)
The tunnel will remain open during all day hours during the week, and all day and night on weekends; and there will be no closures for major holidays like the spring break weeks. The entire project is expected to take about 12 weeks and will be finished up before Memorial Day Weekend.
Lili Boicourt, ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator, said the construction project will begin sometime in mid or late January, but could not give a specific date because that is still to be decided upon by ODOT officials. The earliest possible date that weeknight closures would begin would be January 18, although Boicourt did not believe that was likely.
The closures will start on Sunday nights and run through the weeknights until Thursday. On Sunday, the tunnel will be closed 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. From Monday night through Thursday night, it will be closed 8 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“A signed detour route will direct travelers around the Dennis Edwards Tunnel during the nighttime closures,” ODOT said on its website. “The detour route is a combination of Timber Road and Oregon 47. The route increases driving distance by 15 miles - or about an additional 25 minutes.”
The work includes relining the tunnel, upgrades to the drainage system, replacing lighting and there will be a bicycle warning system to improve safety for bicyclists heading through the tunnel.
ODOT went to great lengths to talk to coastal communities last year and get their input on the project.
Initially, ODOT also wanted to increase the vertical clearance so larger commercial trucks could get through with greater ease. But input from the meetings was quite clear: communities who were dependent on tourism did not want the extra few weeks of closure that would be the result of this work.
Keith Chandler, manager Seaside Aquarium – a major tourist attraction on the north coast – was a little worried about the project impacting tourism.
“If the truth gets out, and things are really clear to the public these are weeknight closures, then there should be no impact,” Chandler said. “But if they hear the word ‘closures’ or aren’t clear about when the tunnel is shut down, then there will be some impact. So I hope ODOT does a good job getting the word out and that everyone understands. It is only late night work, so it shouldn’t affect anyone very much. And if they do get caught in the detour, it’s only a 15-mile detour.”
ODOT has a website devoted to the closure: www.dennisedwardstunnel.org
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