COUGAR RESERVOIR, Ore. -- After receiving special funding, the U.S. Forest Service began to clear debris from Aufderheide Drive in the Willamette National Forest Monday, after a rockslide last year.
To begin the project, construction crews were suspended 150 feet on the cliff and were working to remove remaining debris that's at risk of falling down. They were clearing rocks and trees that could fall on workers or drivers when the road reopens.
Crews said it also helps ensure there won't be another rockslide.
"Well hopefully, it's obviously making it safe for the traffic or the pedestrians, so obviously there's not something rain or mother nature can cause to create more failures or more rocks that can come off and cause an accident or you know a death," Jeremiah Murphy, the operations manager from Triptych Construction, said.
To remove debris from the cliff, they use an air compressor that can fit in between cracks and pop off loose rocks.
This part of the project costs about $20,000 and will take them about a week. The next part where they will begin clearing the road will cost about $108,000 and can take anywhere from one to three months. The Forest Service received the funding from the regional office.
When they clear the road, it will make it easier for drivers to get to the Terwilliger Hot Springs and Cougar Campground.
In the meantime, officials are warning drivers if they still plan on traveling on some of the back roads to get around the slide.
"I would just express that if you are going to take back roads around the slide, ensure you have a four wheel drive clearance vehicle because there is still a lot of debris on those roads like rocks and branches and deeper potholes," Chiara Cipriano, the public affairs specialist for Willamette National Forest, said.
Officials said the road should reopen by this summer.