PBOT Traffic Advisory: West Burnside to remain closed through at least Tuesday, as landslide risk continues

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Crack above West Burnside

White markers indicate a crack at the top of a landslide widened from about 6 inches wide on Wednesday afternoon (at left) to about a foot wide on Thursday morning (at right). This is an indication of continued risk of additional slides at the site. Photos by Linda Goheen and Shawn Castrapel, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

(5:15 p.m., Thursday, March 16, 2017) – The Portland Bureau of Transportation advises the traveling public that West Burnside Road is expected to remain closed at least through Tuesday, March 21, as a hillside continues to threaten the roadway with the risk of more landslides. Work to clear the largest slide to affect a Portland street this winter is weather dependent, so the closure may last longer.

PBOT crews were executing a controlled slide of the area on Thursday, removing mud and large root balls piece by piece. PBOT rented an excavator with an extra-long arm, so crews could remove debris from the highest points of the 45-foot tall landslide, while keeping personnel a safe distance away. Foresters from Portland Parks & Recreation removed trees all morning and paused their work as PBOT crews with the excavator removed higher up debris to make the site safe.

"We're trying to pull the material down carefully and slowly," Suzanne Kahn, maintenance operations group manager. "Hopefully it doesn't decide to come down on it's own, like it did Wednesday morning. We don't want to take any more of the hillside down than needs to come down."

VIDEO of PBOT crews using a long excavator to remove rootballs, soil and other debris from the landslide. See PBOT's YouTube account.

Excavator on West Burnside

The public should stay away from the area until PBOT crews decide to reopen it next week. West Burnside is closed to people biking, walking or driving between NW Skyline Blvd and SW Barnes Road, near the Mount Calvary Cemetery. People driving through the area are encouraged to use U.S. 26 or NW Cornell Road as alternate routes, or consider public transit.

A signed detour guides westbound traffic to use SW Skyline to Barnes Road, then to West Burnside. Eastbound traffic is directed to SW Barnes, then SW Skyline before returning to West Burnside.

A number of factors require an extended road closure as crews deal with the largest landslide of the winter season:
• A crack at the top of the slide, about 45 feet above the roadway, widened from about 6 inches to about a foot, from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning. The slide area extends about 50 feet from the roadway, and about 120 feet long.
• Forecast weekend rain could increase the risk of landslides at the site, increasing the risk to City workers and the public.
• Water from the landslide has damaged the roadway. PBOT plans to make road repairs before reopening West Burnside. Permanent fixes, such as permanent pavement, may be scheduled for a later date, depending on weather conditions.
• The work is weather dependent, so the schedule may continue to change. Removal of more debris may reveal more risk and a need for more time to remove material.

PBOT crews removed 744 cubic yards of debris on Wednesday, 456 cubic yards on Thursday and expect to remove another 400 cubic yards or more on Friday. With more than 1,000 cubic yards of debris, this is by far the largest of the 42 landslides PBOT crews have responded to this winter. A landslide on SW Skyline Blvd in February displaced more than 600 cubic yards of debris.

PBOT crews using 12-yard dump trucks have hauled scores of loads from the site, and forestry crews have also hauled woody debris.
Winter storms and spring rain have taken a toll on hills in the Portland area. PBOT crews have responded to 42 landslides this season, through Wednesday.

The public should stay away from the area. We ask travelers to observe all street closures and directions by reader boards and flaggers, and use alternate routes if possible.

PBOT rented an extra long excavator to remove large rootballs debris piece-by-piece on Thursday, and allow crews to remain a safe distance away. Foresters are visible in this picture, ready to remove trees and woody debris when it is safe to do so. Photo by Dylan Rivera, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Excavator on West Burnside


The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/transpor…

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