Highway 199 reopening delayed

MEDFORD, Ore. – Caltrans hopes to open Highway 199 soon, but only twice a day for a limited amount of time.

Now the highway is closed in O’brien at Lone Mountain Road, due to fire activity.

The Smith Rivers Complex forced the highway to shut down last week.

But Caltrans and California Highway Patrol are planning on making some travel on 199 possible under specific circumstances.

Starting next Wednesday, August 30th, escorted, one-way traffic will be available at 7 a.m.

Northbound traffic going from Gasquet to the Oregon border will go first.

Then immediately afterwards, southbound traffic from the Oregon border to Gasquet will be escorted through.

After that, the highway will be closed until 5 p.m.

Then the same thing will occur; northbound traffic will go first from Gasquet to the Oregon border, then southbound traffic will go back down to Gasquet.

After that, it will be closed until 7 a.m. the next day.

CHP says, they understand the inconvenience the closure has been to Del Norte County residents.

But it wants to emphasize that you should only take the route if necessary, as fire crews are still working around these areas.

CHP Lieutenant Pete Roach said, “It’s not a scenic tour to go check out the fire, it’s not something where we want people coming in, driving on dirt roads, trying to go look at things and get into people’s way. This is a strict procedure that we’re trying to provide. If we don’t follow those rules, then this could be taken away from us.”

CHP also tells us they recognize these are short windows of opportunity to use the route but say it’s for safety reasons.

These circumstances are subject to change, due to the unpredictable nature of the fires.

NBC5 News will continue to update the story.

UPDATE 8/25: This article has been updated to reflect CHP’s delay in reopening the highway, from 8/28 to 8/30.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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