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Western Railroad Discussion > UP La Grande sub

Date: 01/06/17 18:33
UP La Grande sub
Author: tvh25

Hello,  does anyone know the current road and snow conditions along the UP line from Pendleton and points East?  Thinking about possibly heading into that area in a couple of weeks, but wondering about access and snow conditions this year. I have a capabile AWD with 4 snow tires and have a set of chains, but even that wont necessarly be enough in deep mountain snow.  

​Snow photos of the line and roads would be nice, if you have any.  Feel free to message me directly, or email me at: tom@railsnw.com.



Date: 01/06/17 19:00
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: bluesman

In a couple of weeks the situation with roads can be quite different. Changes good or bad can be within hours. Currently, we have high winds and storms approaching for the weekend and most of next week. Hard to say how much snow will fall. ODOT does a very good job keeping I-84 as open as possible. One wreck though, and 84 is closed  from the east border to Pendleton. If you are already here, you can get around to some places with the 2 lane highways. But, not always. It is entirely an hour by hour situation in really bad weather. BTW, UP has the Pocatello"taxi" at La Grande. A nicely pained white and blue ex-commute car and 50 ft. CNW boxcar. The flanger here as well as the Jordan Spreader have be in service in the last few days after storms. A freindly suggeston: Don't rail-fan here in the winter weather such as this year; without proper equiment and preperations.

Date: 01/06/17 19:22
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: BobB

Go to tripcheck.com, the Oregon Department of Transportation website.  There are cameras at many locations along the major interstates and other highways, along with information on road closures and weather warnings.

Date: 01/06/17 19:43
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: Auburn_Ed

Don't go this weekend.......MAJOR WINTER STORM coming.


Date: 01/06/17 20:59
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: spwolfmtn

Generally speaking, the 2-lane road from Meacham through Kamela, back down to the freeway interchange at Spring Creek is kept in pretty good condition over the winter (ie plowed).  This of course is in general and depends on current conditions. 

East of La Grande, the back roads through Telecaset to North Powder are also generally ok, gets less snow than the big mountain west of La Grande, but is suseptible to snow drifting with winds and often has patchy ice.

The further east you go, again, generally, the less snow there is (ie desert), so the back roads are usually at least ok. 

I've driven these many times in the winter over the decades and usually find them all quite passable (sometimes better than I-84 and the dumbass drivers on there, to bypass accidents).

Date: 01/06/17 21:06
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: FiestaFoamer

All of what has been said is right. The ODOT Tripcheck website is very helpful. They do try to keep the roads plowed but if it's snowing hard the lightly traveled two-lane roads can accumulate quickly (I'm thinking particularly of the road to from I-84 up to Kamela). E of La Grande (so, Huntington Sub) yeah, HWY 30 is usually all right. Though watch out in the Union Junction area -- as of a couple of weeks ago, the road that leads from the Union Junction siding grade crossing back to Union and HWY 30 was not plowed, and had deceptively deep drifts. 

When it gets bad, UP has its hands full (with frozen switches, trains tied down in sidings, the need to get snow fighting equipment time to work, etc) and operations get tricky. A scanner is very helpful. 

You wanted images... here's an MPCHK rolling up through the snow at Nordeen a couple of weeks back in a major storm. First time I've uploaded video here, so I hope it works...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/17 21:10 by FiestaFoamer.

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Date: 01/07/17 00:10
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: tvh25

Great clip.....  if that isn't reason enough to drive across OR in the dead of Winter, nothing is.   Sure looks tempting.  


Date: 01/07/17 09:00
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: philhoov

The ODOT website is an excellent resource.
I-84 has been closed between Pendleton and Ontario, off and on, over the past couple of weeks or more.
We have another big storm coming in today with more snow, then possible freezing rain here in the Boise area.

Date: 01/07/17 19:56
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: gobbl3gook

Slickest road I've ever been on was I-84 through the Blues in Feb 2001.  I parked on the shoulder, for fun, at 1:00 am to see how slick the road really was.  I walked across the lanes to the median (no traffic), then tried to walk back.  Even the minimal superelevation on a slight curve made it nearly impossible to "walk across the street" on account of the extreme slickness.  

Note that Oregon, historically has never salted their roads.  A month ago they announced they would begin using salt in select places.  Don't count on any salt coming to a road near you, though.  

Take home message -- don't expect any traction on Oregon roads in the winter.  

Tire chains are your friend.  They'll work fine on ice.  Snowtires should work fine in most snow.  And a trench shovel should be the right size, shape and sturdiness to dig high-centering snow from under your car if you get stuck.  Bring good gloves.  


Ted in OR

Date: 01/07/17 20:33
Re: UP La Grande sub
Author: grahamline

Though Oregon has not in the past salted its roads, it does spread volcanic grit, which provides help with traction. It's not a complete skating rink, although I did see eight to 10 wrecks wrapped in cop tape alongside I-5 and I-205 on a Portland-Salem-Portland round trip today.

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