January 16, 2002 11:00 pm

A nearly $4 million modernization project designed to help reduce traffic on Highway 82 won approval for funding from the Oregon Transportation Commission Wednesday.

The cities of La Grande and Island City and Union County sought the funding to improve McAlister Road, Cove Avenue, 26th Street and Buchanan Lane.

The plan calls for modernizing the local roads so they become a parallel travel route of Highway 82. It will take up to 10 years to complete the project. The price tag is $3,947,995.

Also approved for funding, as expected, was the Interstate 84 bridges west of La Grande in the Lower Perry area. To fix all the bridges, which are cracking and need emergency repairs, will cost about $32 million. They will be rebuilt over several years, ODOT officials said.

Two Union County bridges were approved for funding, the Little Creek bridge on High Valley Road and a bridge over Catherine Creek on Badger Flat Lane. The total cost will be $892,000, with the bulk of the funding from the state and the county providing some paving and engineering valued at $72,000.

North Powder was approved for funding of $2,787,750 to repave, put in curbs, gutters and sidewalks, bike lanes, parking and planting strips on Second Street.