Transportation Routes Update

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The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has issued the following concerning highways impacted by the wildfires in the state.

State Highway update for southwest Oregon

  • Almeda Fire area between north Ashland-south Medford:

Oregon 99 is still closed to the public between north Ashland (South Valley View Drive) and south Medford (South Stage Road) for fire operations. This includes the cities of Talent and Phoenix. I-5 Talent Exit 21 remains closed. I-5 Phoenix Exit 24 is closed to the west, but open to the east.

No pedestrians will be allowed to cross I-5 Exit 24 Phoenix.

  • Obenchain Fire area: All of Oregon 62 north of Oregon 234 north is closed. This includes the OR 62 north and east from U.S. 97.
  • Archie Fire and Diamond Lake area fires: Oregon 138E remains closed from Idleyld east to the junction of U.S. 97.
  • Slater Fire in Illinois Valley: U.S. 199 (Redwood Highway) remains closed from the OR/Cal border north to near Cave Junction. (Also closed in California)
  • The OR 18 Highway closure is now milepost 0 to 5, from U.S. 101 to west of Rose Lodge in Lincoln County. The road is open from milepost 5 to 7, accessible only from the east end of the closure. Travelers should use extreme caution throughout the state as visibility varies. Expect quickly changing conditions. Check TripCheck.com or call 5-1-1 for current road closure and conditions.

Dense Wildfire Smoke Statewide

With heavy smoke blanketing much of southwest Oregon, ODOT reminds drivers the best thing they can do to stay safe is avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.

Remember to check conditions if you must head out. A number of roads remain closed throughout the state. Go to Tripcheck.com or call 5-1-1 for real time road conditions.

If you encounter heavy smoke while driving here are some steps you can take to help stay safe:

  • Slow down and stay alert. Slow driving gives you more time to respond to unexpected conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights. Even during daylight hours your headlights will help others on the road see you. Use low-beams as high-beams reflect off the moisture in the air and cause glare.
  • Use fog lights. If you have them, fog lights can help cut through the smoke.
  • Keep plenty of space between you and other vehicles. Visibility, of course, decreases in smoke so maintain a safe stopping distance between you and the vehicle up front.
  • If visibility becomes too dangerous to continue, pull off to the side of the road as soon as safely possible.
  • Never stop in a travel lane. Look for a safe area completely off the road if possible and turn off all lights, including flashers, until it's safe to continue.
  • Don't tailgate. Keep a steady, reliable pace. Remember that everyone else on the road is in the same fix you're in. They're counting on you to help show the way.
  • Do not put yourself at risk by using forest roads to get around fire closure areas.

Follow developments here and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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