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Road crews had a blast blasting rocks off 26 last summer. Photo courtesy of ODOT.

Be ready for delays and closures on Hwy. 26 from April through October, as road crews move into Year Two of the big Mt. Hood Safety Project.

The second phase of the big road project will cover the stretch of U.S. 26 connecting Metro Portland to Mount Hood, from Kiwanis Camp Road to Government Camp.

Work starts Wednesday, April 1, and it will involve some serious rock-blasting and quite a few transportation complications.

Here are some key details to keep in mind as you plan your spring and summer Mount Hood travel:

  1. Get used to one lane. There will be just one lane in each direction around-the-clock, from April 1 to Oct. 31.
  2. Sundays are best. There will be no work done on Sundays or holidays.
  3. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings are worst. Hwy. 26 will be closed in both directions for blasting on those evenings between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm, although not every week. The specific blasting closures will be posted on www.TripCheck.com in advance, so you might want to bookmark that page. Shred Hood will also send out frequent alerts through our Twitter account.
  4. Expect a lot of trucks. Not just on 26, either. Lolo Pass and Trillium Lake Roads will also see more truck traffic as workers move around rock and debris from the blasting.
  5. Expect a lot of noise. Silent Rock itself will not be blasted, but the area around it will be anything but silent during the explosions. Let’s hope the snow gods give us a break in spite of our rude impositions and blatant violations of the Code. Haven’t we suffered enough?
  6. It won’t affect the snow season. This year’s work will wrap up by November, in time for what will hopefully be a banner 2015-16 winter season.
  7. We’ve still got a ways to go. The project is not scheduled to wrap up until November of 2016.
  8. It should make for a safer road. By the time the Mt. Hood Safety Project is complete, the new Hwy. 26 will have a 1.6-mile concrete barrier to prevent cross-over crashes, 1,400 feet of new passing lanes, and a new 27-foot ditch to capture falling rocks around Map Curve. Along with new pavement and better barriers between mountain rocks and the highway.

For more information about the project, visit www.US26MtHoodSafety.org

And in case you want to see what it looks like when they detonate the big charges, here is a video of last year’s rock-blasting on Mount Hood: