Historic Columbia River Highway

Mitchell Point

Winner of the 2023 Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG) Outstanding Environmental & Engineering Geologic Project Award!

NAME: Historic Columbia River Highway, Mitchell Point
LOCATION: Hood River County, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
MARKET: Transportation
SUBMARKET: Bike & Pedestrian Paths

DESCRIPTION: 

Mitchell Point is a ±900-foot-tall promontory located ±3 miles west of Hood River, Oregon, within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area. The project study area was located on the ±400-foot tall, near vertical, basalt cliff that lies between I-84 and Mitchell Spur. A bench, located on the cliff ±80 feet above I‑84, is the remnant of the Historic Columbia River Highway alignment.

The Historic Columbia River Highway, Mitchell Point project is part of the overall effort to establish the Historic Columbia River Highway & State Trail (HCRH) from Troutdale to The Dalles, Oregon. This has been a combined effort spanning 25 years between the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, and the US Forest Service. Many companies have been involved in the effort through their work completed during different components of the project.

FUN FACT:

The original Mitchell Point tunnel was in service between 1915 and 1953! The completed roadway was ±20 feet wide and the tunnel was a horseshoe shape that was ±18 feet wide by ±19 feet high. The Mitchell Point tunnel was known as the “Tunnel of Many Vistas”.

SERVICE:  Foundation Engineering, Inc. was retained to complete field investigations for design and alignment as well as provide additional information for evaluating alternatives.

Our scope included a subsurface investigation plan, drilling, conduct an oriented downhole survey of the completed borings, log the explorations, provide oblique areal drone photography of the rock face, conduct surface geologic mapping and rock discontinuity surveys, and compile field notes, field boring logs, site photos and photograph all rock core.

Highlight: This is a project spanning many years with collaboration from many different entities. The historic Highway U.S. 30 was constructed from Portland to The Dalles in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. With the construction of the new highway and unstable conditions of the Mitchell Point Tunnel, the tunnel was labeled obsolete in 1953. It was backfilled with crushed basalt and abandoned. In 1966, the rock cliff was cut back and stripped of loose rock to make room for the widening of US 30 (now I-84) near Mitchell Point. As part of this effort, the Mitchell Point Tunnel and viaduct were destroyed.

Tunnel completion is likely in Spring 2024.

Mitchell Point Historical
Mitchell Point Looking East
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