PENDLETON — Contractors have begun prep work to chip seal 33.6 miles of the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway on the North Fork John Day Ranger District, which was funded through the Great American Outdoors Act.
Work will begin once weather conditions are within the necessary parameters for effective chip sealing. The road work will be ongoing for approximately four weeks and includes cleaning the road surface, sealing cracks in the road, patching potholes, followed by chip sealing the entire roadway. Construction crews are moving equipment on-site this week and stockpiling gravel.
The construction work will require that the full length of the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway will periodically have delays and traffic will be managed by flaggers and pilot cars from June 16 until approximately June 30. The road will reopen once work is completed. Construction signs will be posted at each end of the project and as needed in work zones.
The Umatilla National Forest also received additional funding through the Great American Outdoors Act to chip seal another 22 miles of the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway that crosses through the Heppner Ranger District. Additional updates will be shared as work gets underway.
The Blue Mountain Scenic Byway is a popular 145-mile route that travels from near Arlington to Granite. This road is also a major portal to both the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, offering numerous opportunities for scenic views and recreation. The investment in deferred maintenance on these portions of the road will reduce risk to public safety, enhance visitor access, and extend the life of this scenic route for 10-20 years.
Additional projects may be implemented on the Umatilla National Forest this year and will be announced later if funding is allocated.
The funding for the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway chip seal project is part of a $285 million investment on National Forests that is made possible by the newly created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, established in 2020 by the Great American Outdoors Act.
Nationally, the funds will allow the Forest Service to implement more than 500 infrastructure improvement projects essential to the continued use and enjoyment of national forests lands this year.
The projects will serve as a catalyst for economic development and employment opportunities in rural communities and will strengthen shared stewardship of national forests and grasslands by expanding the Forest Service work with public and private partners.
Projects funded by the Legacy Restoration Fund will contribute to efforts to develop more sustainable infrastructure resilient to climate change impacts. Projects may also address Administration objectives to provide improved recreational opportunities and access to underserved communities.
For more information on these projects in the Pacific Northwest Region, visit the regional GAOA website.
More information about the Umatilla National Forest is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla.