Roadmaster warns travelers of rocks, high water

By Jayson Jacoby / The Baker City Herald

Baker County Roadmaster Jeff Smith warns drivers to watch for falling rocks and high water on local roads, especially the gravel Burnt River Canyon Road between Bridgeport and Durkee and the southern end of the Snake River Road near Huntington.

"We're having a heck of a time with rocks popping off," Smith said this morning. "That's the biggest issue we have right now."

No roads were closed this morning, he said.

At 10 a.m. he had just dispatched a crew to Deems Loop Road in Sumpter Valley, where a large-diameter culvert had plugged, causing water to flow across the road.

The combination of a rapid thaw and rain dislodges rocks from road cutbanks.

The same conditions have also clogged some local streams and ditches with foot-thick chunks of ice, said Jeff Colton, manager of the Baker Valley Irrigation District.

Colton said he, along with Baker City Public Works Department crews and a local farmer, worked from about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to pull ice from Settlers Slough near 18th Street in west Baker City.

Tom Fisk of the city's public works department said that before the ice was removed, water had run across 18th Street and into the crawl space of a home on the west side of the street.

Fisk said city crews pumped the water out of that crawl space.

Fisk said city crews also had to deal with a very unusual problem: frozen storm drains.

He said crews had to use the city's sewer jetter to clear clogged storm drains in an alley at Court Avenue between First and Main streets, and another on L Loop near Birch Street in northeast Baker City.

Colton said he is watching the Powder River to make sure no ice jams form.

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The Baker City Herald
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