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Author Topic: I-84 over Deadman Pass  (Read 941 times)

bugo

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I-84 over Deadman Pass
« on: March 14, 2019, 08:58:04 AM »

I was checking out some sights on Google Earth and noticed how curvy I-84 was through this section is. What is the speed limit? What is the recommended speed around the curves? Were all those curves necessary?
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doorknob60

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2019, 12:35:18 PM »

The speed limit is actually 70 through all of it (trucks 65), just as it is the entire way from The Dalles Dam to the Idaho border (though, there is a variable speed section near Baker City, but that defaults to 70). With only a few exceptions, Oregon does not lower the speed limit on rural highways for curves, hills, or anything like that. Generally the only reason a highway speed limit is lowered is when it enters a city. Though, the eastern Oregon higher legislative speed limits complicate that a bit (example, US-97 having some 65 stretches and some 55 stretches). Advisory speeds I believe are as low as 45. Trucks often are going even slower (especially uphill of course). Yes, those curves were probably necessary, even as it is it's quite steep. Side note, I'll be driving through here later today  :cool:
« Last Edit: March 14, 2019, 12:41:39 PM by doorknob60 »
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Mark68

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2019, 05:23:55 PM »

Is that the pass east of Pendleton to get into the Blue Mountains?

Yes. Those curves are VERY necessary. That hill is no joke.
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Bickendan

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 10:19:48 PM »

I last drove that in 2006, and I remember feeling centrifugal gs going through the curves at 50.
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Bruce

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 11:50:30 PM »

The Deadman Pass section is about 8 miles that climbs 3,000 feet while hitting the Interstate maximum of 6 percent. It's definitely the most treacherous freeway in the Pacific Northwest, and racks up a lot of collisions.

The Bend Bulletin made this neat infographic of the area's worst stretches of I-84 for a 2013 article on the highway's high collision rate.

Duke87

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 12:42:57 AM »

Advisory speeds I believe are as low as 45.

Lower, even, depending on how much you weigh:
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J N Winkler

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2019, 03:29:27 PM »

Oregon DOT is the only agency I am aware of that signs speed tables keyed to laden weight.  Siskiyou Pass (I-5 just north of the California state line) has speed table signs as well.  I find Cabbage Hill (the name I use; I've also seen Emigrant Pass) to be a real teddy bear, but I have only ever driven it in a passenger car and I know how to use an automatic transmission to develop engine braking.

A few years ago John McPhee, the pioneer of creative nonfiction, wrote a piece about the trucking industry for which much of the research consisted of ride-alongs with an owner-operator specializing in one-off bulk tanker loads.  This involved a descent of Cabbage Hill with a full load and McPhee later described the owner-operator as being very critical of other truckers who speed down the hill instead of taking their time and executing the drop in altitude in a smooth, resource-conserving manner.

John McPhee, "A fleet of one," New Yorker, 2003-02-17
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nexus73

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2019, 07:45:44 PM »

Oregon DOT is the only agency I am aware of that signs speed tables keyed to laden weight.  Siskiyou Pass (I-5 just north of the California state line) has speed table signs as well.  I find Cabbage Hill (the name I use; I've also seen Emigrant Pass) to be a real teddy bear, but I have only ever driven it in a passenger car and I know how to use an automatic transmission to develop engine braking.

A few years ago John McPhee, the pioneer of creative nonfiction, wrote a piece about the trucking industry for which much of the research consisted of ride-alongs with an owner-operator specializing in one-off bulk tanker loads.  This involved a descent of Cabbage Hill with a full load and McPhee later described the owner-operator as being very critical of other truckers who speed down the hill instead of taking their time and executing the drop in altitude in a smooth, resource-conserving manner.

John McPhee, "A fleet of one," New Yorker, 2003-02-17

Sorry I cannot remember the title but there was a sci-fi book I read that had trucks going 200 MPH along superfreeways.  Can you imagine the horsepower, torque and aerodynamics it would take to get an 18-wheeler going that fast? 

Truck driving is akin to piloting aircraft.  "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots".  The driver who knew the safe way to take Cabbage Hill was likely an experienced pro.  Those who move the load in zoom-zoom mode are likely recent graduates of truck driving school.  My father could drive a truck on a highway and rarely use his brakes since he knew each curve and grade on his routes, which let him select the proper speed and gear.  He always led the operator's fleet in MPG.  Preserving that air (trucks use air brakes) is an essential. 

What happens when the brakes go out: A driver on I-80 heading west through Emigrant Pass in Utah wound up with no stopping power.  He knew that when I-80 intersected I-15, it was Game Over.  That led him to doing everything he could do to preserve the lives of those around him before he found a safe (for everyone else) place to crash the truck.  He died and it was a noble sacrifice but if he had managed his situation better, maybe he is still around.  I will always feel sad and proud of that trucker for what he did.

Rick
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pdx-wanderer

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2019, 12:43:12 PM »

Oregon is not completely adverse to lowering rural speed limits due to terrain considerations; I-5 has several such places - Terwilliger Curves, Myrtle Creek curve have speed reductions to 50 mph, and the Siskiyou Pass portion has a reduction to 55 mph. The Interstate Bridge is also posted at 50 mph, lowered from 55 if that counts. However, all of those are much less treacherous conditions, and even before the new legislative speed limits I don't think I-84 had any terrain related speed reductions anyway.

Deadman Pass (and everything else from there to Idaho) having the highest posted truck speed limit not only in Oregon but the entire West Coast will never not be funny. Meanwhile, I-5 in the Willamette Valley remains at 65/60...
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US 89

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2019, 01:14:27 PM »

What happens when the brakes go out: A driver on I-80 heading west through Emigrant Pass in Utah wound up with no stopping power.  He knew that when I-80 intersected I-15, it was Game Over.  That led him to doing everything he could do to preserve the lives of those around him before he found a safe (for everyone else) place to crash the truck.  He died and it was a noble sacrifice but if he had managed his situation better, maybe he is still around.  I will always feel sad and proud of that trucker for what he did.

Wow. I assume you’re referring to Parleys Summit (Emigrant Pass is on I-70). Today there’s a runaway truck ramp about halfway down Parleys Canyon, but it may not have been there at that time.



As for Deadman Pass: I remember driving it several years back during a family trip, and we were all amazed at the rate of elevation gain (or loss, depending on which way you’re going). It’s a good thing my mom was driving at the time, because she almost certainly would have gotten carsick otherwise!
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Bruce

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2019, 02:15:53 PM »

It's definitely more dramatic than some of the more popular Cascades passes, which have a slower rise and follow river valleys as much as they can.

nexus73

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2019, 07:15:14 PM »

What happens when the brakes go out: A driver on I-80 heading west through Emigrant Pass in Utah wound up with no stopping power.  He knew that when I-80 intersected I-15, it was Game Over.  That led him to doing everything he could do to preserve the lives of those around him before he found a safe (for everyone else) place to crash the truck.  He died and it was a noble sacrifice but if he had managed his situation better, maybe he is still around.  I will always feel sad and proud of that trucker for what he did.

Wow. I assume you’re referring to Parleys Summit (Emigrant Pass is on I-70). Today there’s a runaway truck ramp about halfway down Parleys Canyon, but it may not have been there at that time.



As for Deadman Pass: I remember driving it several years back during a family trip, and we were all amazed at the rate of elevation gain (or loss, depending on which way you’re going). It’s a good thing my mom was driving at the time, because she almost certainly would have gotten carsick otherwise!

Thank you for the correction US 89 :-)

Rick
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sparker

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2019, 08:14:40 PM »

The UP rail line largely paralleling I-84 doesn't even attempt to surmount Deadman; it heads due east up a creek from Pendleton before doubling back on a series of  "horseshoe" curves, crossing I-84 near the summit before heading south to do the same (but with less elevation change) down to La Grande.  In doing this UP managed to maintain a maximum 2.2% gradient eastward (functionally the maximum for a main line) but at the cost of an additional 30+ miles of track to accomplish this. 
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nexus73

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2019, 11:58:55 PM »

The UP rail line largely paralleling I-84 doesn't even attempt to surmount Deadman; it heads due east up a creek from Pendleton before doubling back on a series of  "horseshoe" curves, crossing I-84 near the summit before heading south to do the same (but with less elevation change) down to La Grande.  In doing this UP managed to maintain a maximum 2.2% gradient eastward (functionally the maximum for a main line) but at the cost of an additional 30+ miles of track to accomplish this. 

Surveying a rail line route would be as tough as it gets for doing ground transport.  Reading a book about this subject would sure be interesting!

Rick
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sparker

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2019, 05:54:05 PM »

The UP rail line largely paralleling I-84 doesn't even attempt to surmount Deadman; it heads due east up a creek from Pendleton before doubling back on a series of  "horseshoe" curves, crossing I-84 near the summit before heading south to do the same (but with less elevation change) down to La Grande.  In doing this UP managed to maintain a maximum 2.2% gradient eastward (functionally the maximum for a main line) but at the cost of an additional 30+ miles of track to accomplish this. 

Surveying a rail line route would be as tough as it gets for doing ground transport.  Reading a book about this subject would sure be interesting!

Rick

Oregon's got a lot of RR hill-climbing to do; much of that involves doubling back on opposite slopes to gain elevation.  The UP (old SP) main SE of Eugene paralleling OR 58 does that -- out of Oakridge, it goes SE for a few miles, then crosses over 58 on a trestle and heads back NW on the south slope for about 15 miles before reversing direction on another horseshoe curve -- and this time staying on a SE trajectory all the way over Willamette Pass to Chemult over on US 97.  And the original SP CA-OR main line over Siskiyou Summit does much the same thing on the slopes of Mt. Ashland before heading south into CA.   Oregon's topology has, out of necessity, produced some extreme alignments as laid out by the RR surveyors from the 1870's through the 1920's.  There's a good reason why the only line to surmount the main Cascade range is the aforementioned UP/SP line along OR 58 -- doing so elsewhere, even utilizing passes with lower elevation than Willamette, would have been expensive beyond reason -- and don't think it hasn't been contemplated before -- the pine/fir forests on the east side of the Cascades supply much of the country's building material -- which is why the Oregon Trunk N-S railroad from Chemult via Bend (and following US 97 and 197 for the most part) was constructed in the 1920's as not only an alternate CA to WA rail corridor but to provide an outlet for forest products.  Still, the state's largest lumber processors are situated along the I-5 corridor from Roseburg north to Salem, so additional E-W rail lines "over the top" have been considered (but ultimately rejected) from time to time. 
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nexus73

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2019, 07:11:18 PM »

The UP rail line largely paralleling I-84 doesn't even attempt to surmount Deadman; it heads due east up a creek from Pendleton before doubling back on a series of  "horseshoe" curves, crossing I-84 near the summit before heading south to do the same (but with less elevation change) down to La Grande.  In doing this UP managed to maintain a maximum 2.2% gradient eastward (functionally the maximum for a main line) but at the cost of an additional 30+ miles of track to accomplish this. 

Surveying a rail line route would be as tough as it gets for doing ground transport.  Reading a book about this subject would sure be interesting!

Rick

Oregon's got a lot of RR hill-climbing to do; much of that involves doubling back on opposite slopes to gain elevation.  The UP (old SP) main SE of Eugene paralleling OR 58 does that -- out of Oakridge, it goes SE for a few miles, then crosses over 58 on a trestle and heads back NW on the south slope for about 15 miles before reversing direction on another horseshoe curve -- and this time staying on a SE trajectory all the way over Willamette Pass to Chemult over on US 97.  And the original SP CA-OR main line over Siskiyou Summit does much the same thing on the slopes of Mt. Ashland before heading south into CA.   Oregon's topology has, out of necessity, produced some extreme alignments as laid out by the RR surveyors from the 1870's through the 1920's.  There's a good reason why the only line to surmount the main Cascade range is the aforementioned UP/SP line along OR 58 -- doing so elsewhere, even utilizing passes with lower elevation than Willamette, would have been expensive beyond reason -- and don't think it hasn't been contemplated before -- the pine/fir forests on the east side of the Cascades supply much of the country's building material -- which is why the Oregon Trunk N-S railroad from Chemult via Bend (and following US 97 and 197 for the most part) was constructed in the 1920's as not only an alternate CA to WA rail corridor but to provide an outlet for forest products.  Still, the state's largest lumber processors are situated along the I-5 corridor from Roseburg north to Salem, so additional E-W rail lines "over the top" have been considered (but ultimately rejected) from time to time. 

During this state's worst ever winter storm, the Amtrak train was stopped in Oakridge by snow and downed trees.  It took two days to get it and the people out.  The passengers were lucky to be able to stay on the train.  The city of Oakridge was without power.  At least these passengers were able to stay warm, fed, had water and lavatory facilities.

Thank heavens that there will be no horror stories about the Willamette Pass like there is about Donner Pass!

Rick
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sparker

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2019, 04:15:56 AM »

During this state's worst ever winter storm, the Amtrak train was stopped in Oakridge by snow and downed trees.  It took two days to get it and the people out.  The passengers were lucky to be able to stay on the train.  The city of Oakridge was without power.  At least these passengers were able to stay warm, fed, had water and lavatory facilities.

Thank heavens that there will be no horror stories about the Willamette Pass like there is about Donner Pass!

Rick

I had a similar but thankfully shorter experience heading north on Amtrak just before Christmas 2001;  the train hit some packed ice just south of Oakridge and sheared off the brake pipes on a couple of the cars; took about 4 hours to effect repairs, bringing parts uphill from Eugene.  Those of us who were transferring to another train (in my case, the eastbound Empire Builder out of Portland) were taken off the train and bused up to Portland, where they held the EB train an extra hour for us (the engineer made up much of that time by hauling ass between Pasco and Spokane, where the Portland and Seattle sections are combined). 
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mgk920

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Re: I-84 over Deadman Pass
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2019, 12:43:37 PM »

Oregon DOT is the only agency I am aware of that signs speed tables keyed to laden weight.  Siskiyou Pass (I-5 just north of the California state line) has speed table signs as well.  I find Cabbage Hill (the name I use; I've also seen Emigrant Pass) to be a real teddy bear, but I have only ever driven it in a passenger car and I know how to use an automatic transmission to develop engine braking.

A few years ago John McPhee, the pioneer of creative nonfiction, wrote a piece about the trucking industry for which much of the research consisted of ride-alongs with an owner-operator specializing in one-off bulk tanker loads.  This involved a descent of Cabbage Hill with a full load and McPhee later described the owner-operator as being very critical of other truckers who speed down the hill instead of taking their time and executing the drop in altitude in a smooth, resource-conserving manner.

John McPhee, "A fleet of one," New Yorker, 2003-02-17

Sorry I cannot remember the title but there was a sci-fi book I read that had trucks going 200 MPH along superfreeways.  Can you imagine the horsepower, torque and aerodynamics it would take to get an 18-wheeler going that fast? 

Truck driving is akin to piloting aircraft.  "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots".  The driver who knew the safe way to take Cabbage Hill was likely an experienced pro.  Those who move the load in zoom-zoom mode are likely recent graduates of truck driving school.  My father could drive a truck on a highway and rarely use his brakes since he knew each curve and grade on his routes, which let him select the proper speed and gear.  He always led the operator's fleet in MPG.  Preserving that air (trucks use air brakes) is an essential. 

What happens when the brakes go out: A driver on I-80 heading west through Emigrant Pass in Utah wound up with no stopping power.  He knew that when I-80 intersected I-15, it was Game Over.  That led him to doing everything he could do to preserve the lives of those around him before he found a safe (for everyone else) place to crash the truck.  He died and it was a noble sacrifice but if he had managed his situation better, maybe he is still around.  I will always feel sad and proud of that trucker for what he did.

Rick

There is good real-time video of *safe* descents of Cabbage Hill on Big Rig Steve's site.  A recent one (July, 2018) is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F0o4Ij6JRk  The hill is early in the clip, starting around 0:11:00, the actual descent starts at 0:16:00.  Watching that, you wonder why ANYONE not in a car ever tries going down that hill any faster than at a brisk walk.

Mike
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