Banks, Highway 47, News

Highway 47 is closing again

Remember the Highway 47 closure at the northern edge of Banks for more than half a year in 2022 to replace the bridge over West Fork Dairy Creek?

That project—delayed by a snafu over utility lines and left unfinished—is coming back.

Highway 47 is closing again.

Starting June 19, and extending, the Oregon Department of Transportation estimates, until June 30, the highway will once again be closed to remove temporary asphalt and place a permanent surface on the new bridge.

A webpage for the original project goes into further detail.

“The permanent bridge surface will be a polymer concrete that requires specific weather conditions to install and for the material to set,” ODOT said. “Using polymer to bind the concrete makes it less likely to crack, more durable and resistant to conditions caused by changes in the weather.”

ODOT had to wait for dry weather to finish the work, and said last year they would return in the spring to finish the work, a timetable the state agency will just barely keep—summer begins June 21—if the work begins as anticipated.

A detour using Highways 6 and 26 will be in place, the same one officially established last year, an ODOT spokesperson confirmed to the Banks Post in a phone call.

Detour map courtesy ODOT

Unofficially, many motorists opted for a detour using Sellers Road or Banks Road, and the summer of 2023 saw a spike in crashes on that portion of Highway 26 between the Highways 6 and 26 interchange and the Highways 26 and 47 interchange.

During the July 13, 2022 Banks Fire District 13 board meeting, Banks Fire Chief Rodney Linz noted that there had been five crashes the fire district responded to in the area of Sellers Road and Highway 26 since the closure began in mid-May of that year.

More crashes followed.

Linz noted then that his agency wasn’t the only one aware of the traffic snarl resulting from the detour; he rattled off a laundry list of state and local agencies—ODOT, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police—all of whom had to deal with traffic, construction, or crashes in some way in the area.

In a July 8 report to the Banks City Council, Washington County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ryan Pope noted the first five crashes near Sellers. Of the five, at least three were caused by local residents failing to follow traffic regulations, Pope said.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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