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With Eastbound I-84 Finally Open, Gorge Commuters Return To Normal

Regular commuters on Interstate 84 started their week with a return to normal driving routines. 

The Oregon Department of Transportation opened the eastbound lanes of I-84 Saturday afternoon. A portion of the highway from Troutdale to Hood River had been closed since Labor Day because of the Eagle Creek Fire burning in the Columbia River Gorge.

Fire activity continues near Shellrock Mountain and ODOT is diverting eastbound traffic onto westbound lanes near milepost 52.

The highway reopening was big news for Mark Stoffer, an electrician who lives in Corbett, Oregon, and commutes to work in The Dalles. He has spent the past three weeks waking up at 3 a.m. and says his daily drive of about an hour had more than doubled during the highway closure.

“It was just really eating away at your regular routine and daily life,” Stoffer said.

On Monday morning, he was happy to finally set his alarm clock for the usual time.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air,” he said. “Even a lot of the guys that were coming through [Washington] Highway 14, they were all happy.  Because everyone was just getting really tired last week. That extra time in the morning really eats away at you.”

ODOT is still monitoring the highway and warns the rainy season puts the burned area at high risk of landslides.

Meanwhile, four Columbia River Gorge State Parks have reopened. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced Dabney State Recreation Area, Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, Rooster Rock State Park and Starvation Creek State Park suffered no major damage in the fire. 

“We’re grateful that Vista House still stands as well as other iconic features well-loved by Oregonians and visitors to our state,” said Park Manager Clay Courtright, with the West Gorge Management Unit.

The following 11 parks remain closed as park staff reviews their safety:

  • Ainsworth State Park and campground 
  • Benson State Recreation Area 
  • Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint 
  • Crown Point State Scenic Corridor 
  • Dalton Point State Recreation Site 
  • George W. Joseph State Natural Area 
  • John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor 
  • Guy W. Talbot State Park 
  • Shepperd’s Dell State Natural Area 
  • Viento State Park 
  • West Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail 

As of Monday morning, the Eagle Creek Fire has burned 48,668 acres and is 46 percent contained. Fire officials estimate the fire will be fully contained by Sept. 30.

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