ODOT, Caltrans bracing for winter conditions on ‘busy’ I-5 this week, following backup near Ashland

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore — The Oregon Department of Transportation and Caltrans are preparing for a mix of holiday travelers and potential snow on highways this week. 

This is going to be a really busy holiday weekend of travel,” Gary Leaming, public information officer with ODOT, told NBC5 Tuesday. “It’s going to be a struggle. We’re going to be out there, we’re going to keep that highway clean and swept as best as we can.”

Highway officials across Oregon and California are reminding drivers to be more aware of road conditions before they travel. The urgency comes following last week’s miles-long backup on I-5 southbound at Siskiyou Summit towards California.

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The interstate was closed for about 19 hours at the request of California officials, due to the snow impacting the roadways.

“Make sure that you have a full tank of fuel, plenty of warm clothes, food, and water, just in case you might get stuck,” said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue. 

While millions will take to the roads during the holiday season, others are braving the Omicron variant and are hitting the skies. Rogue Valley International Airport in Medford, saw a large number of travelers Tuesday.

Traffic at the airport and on the highways is expected to increase through Christmas Eve on Friday.

People can check road conditions in Oregon by visiting Tripcheck. For conditions in California, visit Quickmap.

12/22 UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect a more accurate number of hours that the Siskiyou Summit was recently shut down. NBC5 News regrets the error.

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