Road work, erosion continues on Highway 101 north of Newport

Signs warn motorists of loose gravel where a sinkhole on Highway 101 near milepost 133 at Otter Rock was temporarily repaired. (Photos by Kenneth Lipp) A flagger stops traffic on Highway 101 near the Moolack Beach parking lot on Wednesday as a crew repaves the roadway damaged by erosion.

Drainage project impending to mitigate erosion

OTTER ROCK — Ongoing maintenance of Highway 101 near Moolack Beach and an area of active landslide south of Otter Rock made for delayed and treacherous passage for motorists Wednesday.

A new sinkhole appeared in the southbound lane of 101 near Otter Rock earlier this week after double-digit rainfall totals to begin the year, with cars slowing to a crawl across the unevenly graded, gravel-filled section of road near milepost 133 at Johnson Creek. An active landslide there has been a longtime problem, and the mandatory speed limit has been reduced in the area to 35 mph (with a 25 mph advisory) until a permanent fix to the roadway has been completed.

An Oregon Department of Transportation project budgeted at $1,675,000 intended to help slow the slide will be underway this year. ODOT spokesperson Peter Murphy said a contract went up for bidding on Jan. 7 for the installation of a trench drain on the east side of the highway to improve drainage. Once the contract is awarded, the contractor will set the schedule to begin work, depending on conditions, with completion expected at the end of September.

Further south, flaggers stopped northbound traffic Wednesday just north of the Moolack Beach parking lot, as workers deployed asphalt trucks and steamrollers for regular surface maintenance at the curve just north. Southbound traffic was alternately held at Carmel/100th Drive Northeast.

That maintenance is also necessary due to progressive erosion, and ODOT has another drainage project planned for Moolack Beach, but it is not scheduled to go up for bidding until 2022. The $2 million project is expected to be underway spring to summer 2023.


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