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The Columbia Press

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It's road season in the Northwest

First published in the April 23 print edition

An Oregon road crew lays fresh pavement on a fix-it project. (Courtesy ODOT)
Thursday, April 29, 2021

The arrival of warm weather means road construction is on the horizon.

Oregon Department of Transportation refers to its plan for spending $800 million in road repairs this year as the “Fix-It Program.”

Ten fix-its are in Clatsop County. All of them are included in the three-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program or STIP.

ODOT’s Fix-It Program is the largest single funding category in the STIP – despite the fact the agency made a shift toward pedestrian safety, trails and public transit this year.

“While $800 million is a lot of money, it’s still not enough to cover all the projects on our list for each STIP cycle,” the agency wrote in a media release. “For that reason, we want to show you how we decide which projects make it into the STIP and why.”

The multi-year process selects projects by applying engineering expertise, consulting the data on the project’s condition and safety, and looking at community needs and available funding, said Dick Upton, director of ODOT’s Fix-It Program.

Transportation experts are nearly done with early estimates of this year’s fix-its. Next, they’ll head out to each site to collect condition data, estimate construction costs, identify opportunities to combine work with other projects, and finalize the scope of each project.

The needs are always greater than the funding, however. The agency is able to replace just three or four of the state’s 2,700 highway bridges each year.

On average, state highways need to be paved every 25 years, but there’s only enough funding to pave every 50 years. That means more potholes and rough pavement, and more heavy truck weight restrictions on bridges.

Clatsop County projects in the current STIP’s Fix-It Program:

** Youngs Bay Bridge and Highway 101, a $17 million multi-year project. Work on the 57-year-old bridge is underway and includes repairing damaged concrete, replacing joints and bearings, and raising the lift-span tower. Road improvements will take place in 2022 and include a mile and a half of pavement from the bridge south to Neptune Drive, guardrail replacement, upgraded traffic signs, new striping, replacement of signal loops and a signal replacement at Neptune.

** Astoria-Megler Bridge repairs. The $24 million project began in five years ago and includes multiple phases. The first – improving and coating the towers and steel below the deck of the main span – was completed in 2018. Work recoating the deck trusses outside the main span, repair of damaged steel and repainting the bridge deck are current projects. The final phase, now being designed and slated to begin in 2025, includes rehabilitation of the bridge deck, structural inlays and concrete crack sealant. The bridge is 55 years old.

** Highway 101 at Perkins Lane safety improvements. The $2.1 million intersection project is at the south entrance of Warrenton, where multiple collisions have occurred due to vehicles making left-hand turns. A new left-turn lane and concrete separator will be added, with construction set to begin this summer.

** Highway 202 safety improvements in Astoria. The $4.2 million project includes sidewalks between Dresden Street (near the Roundabout) to Fourth Street (near the Olney turnoff). The project includes repaving the road, upgrading traffic signs and installation of retaining walls. Currently in the design phase, construction is slated for 2023.

** Highway 26 Little Humbug Creek Bridge. Nearly $685,000 has been set aside for designs to replace the 60-year-old bridge. Its foundation is in poor condition and the bridge is deteriorating. Design began in 2020, but construction funding and timing still are undetermined.

** Highway 26, Necanicum Junction to the Nehalem River Bridge. The $15.3 million project to pave the 12-mile stretch begins in May. While there won’t be any full road closures, there will be nightly single-lane closures during the week. Included in the project are new guardrails, signs and stormwater improvements.

** Highway 26, Nehalem River Bridge repairs. The $1.7 million project will repair the historic bridge, which was built in 1939. Work includes removing rust between the steel plates, straightening steel beams, replacing rivets and bolts, and repainting. Construction is expected to begin later this year or in early 2022.

** Highway 101 in Seaside. The $7.2 million project includes widening the road, installing bike and pedestrian safety improvements, and repaving from Avenue A to Avenue K. There will be a new center turn lane, two rapid-flashing beacon crosswalks, new traffic signs, disability-compliant curb ramps and improved drainage. When construction begins in 2022, there will be brief lane closures with flagging.

** Highway 101 in south Clatsop County. The $7 million paving preservation project will begin at Ecola Creek and run south to Arcadia Beach north of Arch Cape. It includes new guardrails, bridge decks and rails, traffic signs and rumble strips. Design is underway with construction slated to begin in 2022.

** Highway 101 at Asbury Creek, north of Arch Cape. The $3.6 million project will replace a damaged culvert that was built in 1937. Currently, water passes through and exits as a waterfall, which prevents fish passage. Currently in the design phase, construction is slated for 2023.

** Highway 30, Graham Creek Fish Passage west of Clatskanie. The $2 million project to replace the culvert and create an easier passage for native salmon and steelhead. The Columbia County project includes road repairs and guardrail replacement. It will be completed in stages with lane closures and delays expected. Construction begins in 2022.

Highway 101/Youngs Bay Bridge pavement project area

Highway 101 at Perkins Lane safety improvements

Highway 202 safety improvements in Astoria

Highway 26 Little Humbug Creek Bridge (Oregon Department of Transportation)

Highway 101 in Seaside

Highway 101 at Asbury Creek


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