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Automatic gate installed at Multnomah Falls lot

Gate aims to prevent traffic from backing up on Interstate 84


A new automatic gate has been installed at the head of the parking lot at the Multnomah Falls exit on eastbound Interstate 84.

Installed by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the gate will begin operation over the Memorial Day weekend.

The gate’s purpose is to prevent a long line of cars from backing up on the freeway as drivers wait to find spaces at the falls parking lot.

The gate will close when the parking lot is full.

Sunny weekends in the Columbia River Gorge draw thousands of visitors to Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s most popular natural tourist attraction.

The increase in visitors, especially on weekends, has caused the popular Multnomah Falls parking lot to exceed capacity several times a year, officials said.

Two large message boards at Benson State Park west of Multnomah Falls and another just before the exit to the falls will alert eastbound drivers when the parking lot is closed.

Drivers also will know the gate is closing by signs that announce its closure.

The gate will reopen once automatic traffic counters determine the parking lot has significant free spaces.

When the gate is closed, officials said drivers will need to stay on Interstate 84 and return to Multnomah Falls when the lot has reopened.

The middle of the day is typically the most crowded time to visit the falls, while less so in the morning or late afternoon. A small parking lot nearby on the Historic Columbia River Highway also is often full.

ODOT said it will continue to study ways to increase the parking capacity at Multnomah Falls.

— Cari Hachmann