South of Vernonia – Highway 47 north of Stub Stewart State Park and south of Vernonia Springs will be closed for a scheduled 60 days starting on Monday, August 6 at 6 a.m. as contract crews hired by the Oregon Department of Transportation replace the bridge that brings the state-owned Highway 47 over Beaver Creek near mile post 70.
The bridge replacement project had originally been scheduled earlier in the summer, but was moved to accommodate the Vernonia Friendship Jamboree and Logging Show on August 3-5.
A detour has been established using Timber Road; cyclists and pedestrians can detour using the Banks-Vernonia Trail and continue to or from Vernonia using the trail, or get back on the highway after the closed area.
For locals, access will be allowed on McDonald Road, north of the closure, and Johnson Road, south of the closure.
The $3.1 million project is necessary, according to state officials, because the existing bridge is old and in poor condition, requiring regular maintenance.
With a major regional route closed, some local business owners fear the two month closure – in the midst of the summer tourism season – could have a significant negative impact on Vernonia-area businesses.
“The city of Vernonia businesses could be hit pretty hard,” said Jeff Walton, owner of Vernonia Springs, a private park with event rentals and tent and yurt camping north of the road closure on Highway 47.
Walton doesn’t anticipate a significant impact on his business, other than the inconvenience; most users of Vernonia Springs find the park online, and will use the established detour to reach the location.
But for the thousands of visitors who flock to Stub Stewart State Park all summer long, the short 15 minute or less drive to Vernonia for supplies, dining, or shopping more than doubles – making the city of Banks a much more attractive choice due to the shorter drive.
For updates, visit the ODOT project website.