A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Rushing to get rock out of Coffin Butte

Written February 28th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

A truck loaded with rock comes barreling down Independence Highway near Ryals Avenue on Feb. 22, 2024.

If you live near the south end of Independence Highway in Benton County, or have driven there lately, you have noticed a sharp increase in truck traffic in the past few months.

One day last week, I stood near the corner of Ryals Avenue and Independence Highway. Trucks carrying loads of rock, sometimes with trailers, were hammering past me at the rate of about two every five minutes.

Loaded trucks were going south, and empties were headed the other day.

I checked in with Benton County, where public information officer Cory Grogan confirmed what I had understood about all this truck traffic between Coffin Butte on one end and the old Tremaine gravel pit on the other. The Tremaine Pit is on Highway 20, the Albany-Corvallis Highway.

“We are aware of the frequent trips Knife River is making between Coffin Butte and the Tremaine Pit,” Grogan told me. “These trucks are hauling rock, which is not fully processed, out of the quarry and storing it at the Tremaine Pit. The hauling began last July and is expected to continue through spring.”

It seemed to me that the frequency of all this heavy trucking back and forth was taking a toll on the pavement, and you can see where potholes have been patched.

“The pavement along this route is not new, with a chip seal applied a few years ago,” Grogan tod me. “As a result, there are some potholes present, particularly in the area where the chip seal was applied. Our team is actively working to address these potholes and maintain road safety.”

The quarry at Coffin Butte figures in the discussion about plans by Republic Services to expand its Coffin Butte landfill. Before it withdrew its first application to expand the dump across Coffin Butte Road in 2022, the company said it wanted to avoid covering up the quarry at the west end of its property with refuse while there was still rock to be mined.

Looking online for this story, I happened across paperwork on a public meeting held in Corvallis in 1973. It was about which of several quarries to designate as the site for a sanitary landfill. Coffin Butte was considered the best, and the Tremaine Pit was second choice.

Republic plans to submit a new expansion plan for Coffin Butte (if it hasn’t done so already), and it looks as though now there’s a rush to get as much material out of the quarry before it becomes part of the dump. (hh)


One rock-carrying truck follows another going south on Independence Highway on Feb. 22, 2024.

7 responses to “Rushing to get rock out of Coffin Butte”

  1. Bill says:

    Where is all this garbage coming from. I hear rumors it is not from around here.

  2. Mac says:

    The road isn’t the only thing taking a beating. The paint and windshields of all our cars that make this commute daily are as well. So much rock on the road at the Tremaine pit entrance. They should be made to sweep the road multiple times a day.

    • Brad says:

      To ask that the road be kept clean, you can call Keith at ODOT. His number is 541-967-2111

  3. Don says:

    Must be excellent quality rock.

  4. Cap B. says:

    I know it’s unusual for me, but I don’t have a comment except that I love the pictures.
    Thanks for the article.

  5. CHEZZ says:

    Best to stay off of Independence Hwy from Camp Adair Road to Hwy 20. These trucks are just barreling down the highway and getting so close to the rear end of vehicles. Not safe for a quiet drive in the country *LOL
    It sounds like they are digging into the area of Coffin Butte where the former Camp Adair firing range was. I hear there alot of artifacts in that area. Maybe the expansion can stop for an architectural dig! Where does Republic Services go? Anywhere it wants to!

  6. Sidney Cooper says:

    A large truck took off from Tremaine, forcing a line of traffic to slow until it got up a head of steam and then it disappeared. That was disturbing, but not as disturbing as the sight of a white sedan nestled up under its front wheels and bumper in the left turn lane to Independence Hwy. Why don’t we hear about this sort of thing happening around us?


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