SOUTH COAST — The Hooskanaden area on U.S. Highway 101 between Gold Beach and Brookings is shifting again.
Heavy rains are to blame for the slight move in soil where mud and rocks relocated part of the highway last winter, according to Dan Latham, public affairs officer with the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“There had been some rain in September, a little less in October, but that’s when we saw some movement by a few inches,” Latham said. “That is normal for when it rains. It was just a little earlier in the season when we usually see movement, but that’s because we saw more rain in September than we usually do.”
Though there is some movement sooner than expected in an area that has seen some of the worst slides on the coast, Latham said it is looking like a normal year for Hooskanaden so far.
“It is usual for us to see some ground movement and cracking,” he said. “We deal with it as it comes. We patch the cracks and keep the road open.”
One change to the recently reconstructed highway are reflective chevron signs warning drivers to slow down and be cautious. The signs were placed on the south end of the reconstructed road where there is a sharper turn.
“We repaved it in an alignment that isn’t the natural or long-term alignment of the road,” Latham said, explaining that the road dips a bit through the area as well. “There have been some crashes earlier this year, so we put up the chevron signs.”
As the South Coast is pummeled this week by another storm, Latham said there will continue to be movement at Hooskanaden.
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“I can’t make promises going forward, but we will continue to monitor it and deal with it as best we can,” he said.
For travelers leaving the area for the Thanksgiving holiday, Coos County Emergency Manager Mike Murphy encourages people to drive carefully in the bad weather.
“Allow extra time to get to your destination,” Murphy said. “The weather will be lousy and it hasn’t rained in a while so roads could be slick.”
Not only that, but he pointed out the potential for ice in higher elevations.
“Remember there will be high traffic volumes and everyone is in a hurry, which is a recipe for trouble,” he said. “If you have to travel, take conditions into account.”
Murphy also reminded the public to carry basic essentials in vehicles including blankets, protein bars, water and road flares.
“It’s a good idea to have your cellphone charged to call for help and have a charger that plugs into the car,” he said. “Make sure you also run off the top half of the fuel tank. When it drops to half, fill it up so you have a bare minimum of a half a tank of fuel … I wish everyone a safe and joyful holiday season. I hope everyone who goes out makes it back home safely.”