Bear Camp Road expected to be open no later than Saturday

After a week of fighting snow up to 13 feet deep, Oregon Department of Transportation snow blowers broke through the last icy blanket covering Bear Camp Road early Tuesday afternoon.

But that doesn't mean the seasonal 50-mile road linking Grants Pass to Gold Beach is now open to the public, cautioned Virginia Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

"We're not quite done yet checking and clearing the road," she said. "The bottom line is it will be open by no later than Saturday, unless we encounter some unforeseen circumstance."

A forest road crew continues to work on road repairs, including repairing at least one area where the road slumped off during the unusually wet spring.

If the work goes well, and a storm forecast for today and Thursday doesn't cause more problems, the road may be open as early as Friday afternoon, she said.

"There were drifts 13 feet up on top," said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming. "But they chewed through it faster than they anticipated."

About 37 miles of the road lies within national forest boundaries. Another 12 miles is on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District. ODOT works in conjunction with the two agencies in opening the road each spring.

If the road opens as anticipated, drivers need to use extreme caution and drive slowly since portions will be one-lane, Gibbons said. Snow walls rising to 10 feet high run parallel to the road, she noted.

Contractors also are working on a slump in the road on the Gold Beach side of the road about three miles east of the junction with the Agness Road, she said.

Pot holes, tree limbs and rocks also may be encountered along the road.

The mountain road, which provides the shortest — although not the straightest — route between Grants Pass and Gold Beach, usually is open the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

The route is heavily used by recreational drivers and as a shuttle route by those floating the whitewater on the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue River. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional beginning of the recreation season that stretches into the fall until snow closes the road.

The road is not maintained from Nov. 5 to Memorial Day weekend.

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