Rick Quillin pumps gas Thursday at Oak Street Shell in La Grande. The closure of the westbound Interstate 84 on-ramp has businesses in the area bracing for a slow summer. “It’s just slower,” said Cheryl Gunter, manager of the Oak Street Shell Station. “It’s sad because we’re only just starting it.” (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Merchants on northwest end of Adams Avenue say businesses already feeling the hit
For about a month, La Grande’s westernmost on-ramp to Interstate 84 has been closed to traffic and businesses near the freeway entrance say they’re feeling the loss of traffic.
“It’s just slower,” said Cheryl Gunter, manager of the Oak Street Shell Station. “It’s sad because we’re only just starting it.”
The on-ramp closure, the off-ramp from eastbound I-84 remains open, is scheduled to remain in place throughout the construction season. It will close again next construction season as Oregon Department of Transportation crews complete a third lane on the Spring Creek grade.
The closure is needed to facilitate the ongoing $43 million, multi-year freeway improvement project between the Second Street under crossing in La Grande and the Kamela interchange at exit 246. The ODOT project began last year and includes resurfacing the left lane with new asphalt, placing concrete in the right lane, replacing median barriers, repairing bridges, improving chain-up areas and constructing a westbound truck climbing lane along the Spring Creek grade.
“Because the freeways will be reduced to a single lane of travel to accommodate improvements to the westbound truck chain-up area near the Union County Fairgrounds, there won’t be enough room for traffic to safely merge from the exit 259 westbound on-ramp,” said Ken Patterson, ODOT project leader, about the closure of the on-ramp.
for the full story, see Friday's edition of The Observer