(Update: Details of crash, snow)
SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Less than a week before its scheduled closure for the season next Tuesday, a semi-truck crash and heavy, wet snow closed state Highway 242 (the Old McKenzie Pass Highway) for nearly a day Wednesday afternoon, ODOT said.
The crash was reported around milepost 77, 14 miles west of Sisters.
ODOT Region 4 Public Information Officer Kasey Davey said the highway reopened early Thursday afternoon.
The semi got stuck and slid off the highway on the west side of McKenzie Pass, a few miles from the Dee Wright Observatory. No injuries were reported.
The semi was over-length, Davey said, as most towing vehicles are, since there’s a 35-foot length restriction on the highway.
After the truck was recovered, there was a big pile-up of snow, and the top of the pass also had accumulated over a foot of heavy, wet snow, Davey said.
To clear the snow berm and the rest of the snow, ODOT had to send in a different piece of equipment. Davey said Thursday the pass had reopened until next Tuesday’s seasonal closure.
ODOT had advised motorists to use an alternate route.
In fact, “if you plan to travel over any mountain pass, expect snow and make sure you and your vehicle are prepared,” Davey said.
The morning of Tuesday, Nov. 1, crews will close the highway from the western gate at Oregon Highway 126 to the eastern gate, just outside of Sisters.
McKenzie Pass is a secondary, scenic highway. Weather, cost and logistics make it impractical to maintain for travel year-round, ODOT says.
“In the winter, we focus our staff and resources on main highways to keep them plowed, open and safe,” the agency said in its announcement.
When the highway is closed, it is closed to all users and is not maintained. Travelers going past locked gates and closure signs could encounter hazards and working equipment on the road, and there are no services or cell coverage.
Every year, McKenzie Pass opens and closes with the seasons. Dates vary, depending on road and weather conditions.
McKenzie Pass became a seasonal scenic highway in 1962 with the completion of the Clear Lake-Belknap Springs section of Oregon 126.
Even during its time as the main route between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon, the narrow, twisting roadway and high elevation (5,325 feet) made the highway too difficult to maintain and keep clear during the winter months.
To see what routes are open over the mountains, and to view current road and weather conditions visit TripCheck.com or call 511.
More information on McKenzie Pass, OR 242, can be found on our website.
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