Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) crews reopened West Burnside at about 5:15 p.m. today, after clearing debris from a recent landslide and working to make the area safe from imminent risk of additional slides. Crews from Portland General Electric, Portland Parks & Recreation, and PBOT worked through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekend to mitigate the issues caused by the landslide and reopen the road as soon as possible.
The closure was needed to clear a large landslide that came after a heavy rain-and-wind storm. At about 11 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 12, a landslide pushed large trees and soil from Forest Park onto West Burnside. About a half dozen large trees were down, with others looming over the roadway. At least one tree was leaning on the Barbara Walker Crossing, Portland Parks & Recreation’s pedestrian bridge that opened in 2019 to safely connect the popular Wildwood Trail across West Burnside.
City workers have removed about 500 cubic yards of soil, trees, and other debris. PGE utility crews have installed new poles and wires. PBOT crews secured the road closure and posted signs for detours, designed by the bureau's traffic engineers. Crews removed large and small debris in at least 42 dump truck loads, estimated to total about 500 cubic yards of mud and trees. PBOT also installed 100 feet of 12-inch pipe beside the road to improve drainage in the area during future rainstorms.
City engineers continue to inspect the Barbara Walker Crossing. This will help to better understand what repairs may be needed after a tree crashed down on top of it.
The Barbara Walker Crossing and adjacent portions of the Wildwood Trail will remain TEMPORARILY CLOSED until a thorough structural engineering assessment of the bridge (and any needed repairs) can be completed to help ensure safety.
One lane open, each direction
With the reopening, one lane is available in each direction, eastbound and westbound. The road normally has three lanes, with one each direction plus a second westbound lane for people driving to pass slower moving vehicles going uphill.
One westbound lane plus the westbound shoulder will remain closed, potentially for several weeks. City crews will need access to monitor the stability of the hillside.
For public safety during the lane closure, the speed limit in the area will be reduced from 40 mph to 30 mph. Once crews determine the hillside can withstand rain events, all lanes will be reopened.
The traveling public may see additional, brief lane closures in the area in the coming weeks and months, from time to time. Crews with telecommunications and other utilities, as well as city crews, will make further repairs to guardrail and other infrastructure in the area with brief, temporary closures for permitted work zones as needed.