ODOT clears camp under I-205

Find out one of the things that gave bridge engineers concern about one of the campers under the freeway overpass …

Under these outer East Portland I-205 overpasses in the Lents Town Center, a homeless camp is being dismantled.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Just before, and during, the heavy snow event in January, a homeless encampment sprouted up at the Foster Road/Woodstock Boulevard couplet under an I-205 bridge.

One of the large tents, set up under the westerly overpass, was apparently heated by a camp stove – complete with stovepipe, extended up high enough to blacken the concrete under the bridge.

On January 26, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) workers, with help from a Multnomah County Corrections crew, dismantled the encampment.

“The crew members who clean up camps also plow snow and perform other winter operations; and – given the recent snow and ice – they are behind on cleaning up these camps,” explained ODOT Region 1 Communications Coordinator Kimberly Dinwiddie.

Under-bridge campers pack their belongings, and prepare to move out of the ODOT property – at least for a few days.

While cleaning the site, Dinwiddie said the campers moved voluntarily, and took all their belongings with them.

“After the camp was removed, our bridge manager checked out the smoke stain under the bridge,” Dinwiddie told East Portland News. “Our bridge inspectors looked for cracks that could occur from the heat. However the smoke stain will make it harder to conduct further routine bridge inspections.

“We were concerned about it, but after the inspection we learned that the smoke itself did not cause damage,” added Dinwiddie.

With the help of a Multnomah County Corrections crew, ODOT workers clean out the trash left behind by the campers.

Within a week, a camp again sprang up at this location. “Our crews are back to ‘winter operations’, and will be, until the threat of freezing rain expires.” Dinwiddie remarked. “After that, they will be back to playing catch up, and giving attention to camping areas along I-5 and I-405. And, once they somewhat catch up, they will return to the I-205 area,” she said.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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