Permit period opens for chain-up helpers

The state will let only a limited number of people volunteer to assist in foul weather on I-84.

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If you've ever wondered what it's like to wrestle tire chains onto an 18-wheeler during a snowstorm, here's your chance.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is taking applications from people who would like to help chain up commercial vehicles on specified sections of Interstate 84. Those who qualify will be issued a free permit for the voluntary job.

This year the ODOT office in Pendleton will issue five permits for I-84 in the Umatilla County area, the La Grande office will issue three permits for the I-84 Ladd Canyon area in Union County and the Ontario office will issue one permit for I-84 west of Ontario in Malheur County.

In addition to the permits issued by ODOT, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation will also issue five permits for the Umatilla County area to tribal members.

Interested parties need to contact the appropriate ODOT district office between Saturday and Oct. 28 to submit their names and addresses. Random drawings will be held Oct. 31 at each ODOT office to determine who will be offered the permits.

After the drawing, those individuals selected will have one week to complete the permit application and return it to the district office, said Tom Lapp, ODOT permit specialist. Only persons who have the chain-up permits and meet the criteria for having the necessary safety equipment will be allowed to provide help to truck drivers in designated chain-up areas. The permits will be valid from Nov. 1-April 1.

Helpers are not allowed to charge, Lapp said. Drivers can offer to donate money for help in chaining up, "but it's not commercial."

The department gets about 30 applications each year. "This is a safety issue. Limiting the permits for each district is necessary to help control the number of people working along state highways during winter weather conditions," Lapp said.

TO APPLY

For more information, people should contact:

ODOT District 12 Office, 1327 SE 3rd Street, Pendleton, Tom Lapp, 541-276-1241.

ODOT District 13 Office, 3014 Island Ave., La Grande, Lisa Hayes, 541-963-8407.

ODOT District 14 Office, 1390 SE First St., Ontario, Ore., John Eden, 541-889-9115, ext. 223.

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Damon McKay, 541-276-3570.

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