By Jayson Jacoby
A popular Forest Service road in the Wallowa Mountains of northern Baker County re-opened this week after being closed by flood damage for almost 2? years.
A combination of heavy rain and snowmelt in June 2010 washed away several sections of the Eagle Creek Road, Forest Road 77.
The gravel road has been closed since then between Tamarack Campground and the East Eagle Creek Road, a stretch of about five miles.
One of the longer routes on the Wallowa-Whitman, Road 77 runs between the Halfway Grade, along Highway 86 between Halfway and Richland, and Catherine Creek Summit on Highway 203 between Medical Springs and Union.
The road passes several campgrounds and trailheads, as well as paralleling Eagle Creek, a popular fishing destination, for many miles.
Because the flood damage happened on a section of road that crosses steep slopes above the creek, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) was the lead agency in planning the repairs.
The project required considerable engineering due to the terrain and because Eagle Creek is a wild and scenic river corridor subject to various protections.
In April of this year the FHA hired JAL Construction of Bend to rebuild the road.
The contract was for $674,744.
"I would like to recognize the hard work and coordination that went into this project," District Ranger Jeff Tomac said in a press release.
"We recognize the importance of this road to our public and our forest road engineers did an outstanding job coordinating with our partners at the FHA and JAL Construction to ensure this road opened for use this fall. It was a complicated project in a sensitive area and I'm very happy with the professionalism and quality of work to open Road 77 for public use."