Steep climbs Motorists encounter many of the steepest grades on the interstate highway system in southern Oregon. The I-5 shoulders, designed to provide a safe refuge for disabled vehicles, are sometimes used by commercial trucks to navigate southern Oregon’s mountain passes. Trucks using the shoulder cause significant damage that requires frequent repair. While most freeway climbs are built on grades of 5 percent or less, the northbound I-5 lanes on Sexton Mountain present a 6.13 percent grade. Trucks frequently slow to less than 30 mph during the climb. The speed difference relative to other traffic can be hazardous. When one truck attempts to pass another slow-moving vehicle, both lanes are blocked, forcing traffic to brake or change lanes to avoid a collision. Some trucks drove along the shoulder but this left no room for disabled vehicles.
March 21, 2014
ODOT expects the new climbing lane will reduce the frequency of I-5 closures related to commercial trucks, especially during winter driving conditions. The new climbing lane is built to today’s engineering standards, thereby reducing the need for ongoing shoulder maintenance. More truck climbing lanes Over the past couple of years, ODOT added three short climbing lanes, each roughly one-mile long, on I-5 in Douglas County. The truck climbing lanes are located southbound at Rice Hill (milepost 147) and one in each direction on ‘Gumby Hill’ (milepost 137), the steep grade located between Sutherlin (exit 136) and Oakland (exits 138 and 140). Truck climbing lanes are also located further north on I-5, where a threemile section exists south of Salem, and on Interstate 84, which has a sevenmile section east of Pendleton.
Moving Ahead - Spring 2014