Oregon Route 242
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)|
|Maintained by ODOT|
|Length:||36.64 mi (58.97 km)|
|Existed:||1962 – present|
|West end:||OR 126 in Belknap Springs|
|East end:||US 20 and OR 126 in Sisters|
McKenzie Highway Historic District
|NRHP Reference #||10001215|
|Added to NRHP||February 7, 2011|
Oregon Route 242, known as a portion of the McKenzie Highway, is an Oregon state highway that runs from Belknap Springs, Oregon through McKenzie Pass in the Oregon Cascades, to Sisters, Oregon, in the United States. The McKenzie Highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places in February, 2011.
This highway was the original routing of U.S. Route 28 through the Oregon Cascades until 1952, when it was redesignated as part of U.S. Route 126 (now Oregon Route 126). This highway was built in the 1920s and was the only highway over the Cascades going east out of Eugene until 1962, when a gravel road heading north from Belknap Springs to U.S. Route 20 at Santiam Junction was widened and paved. At that point, the new alignment was designated as US 126, and the old alignment was renamed OR 242. OR 242 is now considered primarily a scenic route. As a result, it is not plowed or sanded, and is thus closed during winter—generally from November 1 until about the July 1 every year, although snows have closed it as early as Labor Day in the past. Snow packs of up to fourteen feet are common on the summit of the road; snow gates are located 7 miles (11 km) east of the junction with OR 126 at Belknap Springs, and 14 miles (23 km) west of Sisters.
This is the 2nd highway in Oregon to have the designation OR 242. The earlier OR 242 was located in the Willamette Valley and connected U.S. Route 99E (now Oregon Route 99E) in Woodburn with Oregon Route 219 southeast of St. Paul. This incarnation of OR 242 existed between 1932 and sometime after 1951, when it was replaced with an extended Oregon Route 214. Later, OR 219 was redirected along most of this route to end on Interstate Route 5 in Woodburn, and OR 214 was truncated to the same interchange.
Intersections with other highways
The McKenzie Highway has two travel lanes and narrow shoulders within a consistently narrow roadbed. The paved width is about 17 feet. Because of the narrow width and sharp curves throughout the route, vehicles longer than 35 feet are not permitted. The grade is generally moderate to steep (estimated between one and six percent), and the asphalt concrete surface is in fair to poor condition. Existing cutslopes are in volcanic rocks or in the thin layer of soil overlying the rocks and generally stable, except in the section of steep switchbacks near MP 69. The steepness of cutslopes and nearby tree cover result in a shaded roadway throughout most of the project length.
A road recycling project was completed in the early 1990s to extend the life of the pavement on OR 242. The project included level patching and cold recycling. Recent observations indicate that the existing pavement typically ranges from three to six inches thick. Throughout most of the project area, the top 2 inches of asphalt (placed in 1991 and 1992) lies on top of approximately two inches of cold recycled asphalt. The older asphalt underlying both layers shows significant deterioration, and subsurface borings show a lack of aggregate base under the pavement. Field observations and laboratory testing data indicate that the existing sub-grade was not well compacted. The pavement shows some cracking, and it has been patched in many locations. Because the pavement is narrow, motorists often travel near the outer edge of the road to provide a comfortable distance between them and oncoming traffic. Because the road shoulders are very narrow or non-existent, that practice has caused the edges of the road to ravel and break up.
The bridges at MP 66.70 and 68.36 were originally built in 1921 and rebuilt in 1938 and 1941. Both bridges are supported by rock masonry abutments that are deteriorating. Interim repairs have been made to the bridges, but they continue to deteriorate. The hydraulic capacity of both bridges is inadequate to pass a 50-year flood event.