Highway 242 work gets underway


Last updated 3/26/2024 at 1:32pm

Photo by Jim Cornelius

Road work on Highway 242 west of Sisters begun - with initial effort focused on other side of the mountains.

In a sure sign of spring, "Construction Ahead" signs are popping up around Sisters Country. One that is likely pleasing to area residents is the improvement project to the popular and historic Highway 242, where thousands of tourists in vehicles and on bicycles wind their way every summer.

A favorite highway of motorcyclists and touring cars, Highway 242 is still in the middle of its annual winter closure from about 12 miles west of Sisters to a few miles east of Highway 126 near Belknap Springs. The seasonally closed section typically opens in late May or early June depending on snowfall.

There is enough snow on the ground now to suggest a June opening, but weather will be the determining factor, not any arbitrary decision by ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation).

Snow will not factor much into the project, as work on both sides of the summit - far from the deepest snow - has begun. According to ODOT, the project will improve access to federal recreation areas in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests.

It will improve conditions for motorists and cyclists by resurfacing the roadway between Dee Wright Observatory and Highway 20 at Sisters, rebuilding shoulders and bike lanes where they are degraded or substandard, removing safety hazards adjacent to travel lanes, updating ADA curb ramps as necessary, and replacing or repairing signs and warning systems throughout the corridor.

The project also includes the installation of accessible bathrooms at Cold Springs Campground and Picnic Site and at Dee Wright Observatory, bicycle parking at Dee Wright, and pullouts and interpretive panels throughout the corridor.

The $4.1 million project came off the drawing board last April and will take months to complete. Motorists and cyclists, however, should see most of the improvements completed by the time in June when they arrive in large numbers.

Large electronic sign boards are up at different points in Sisters advising drivers of the work. Motorists are urged to be vigilant for work crews and construction trucks entering the highway. Some shoulder work may necessitate lane controls.


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