ROAD PROJECT RECEIVES ANOTHER SHOT OF CASH

July 26, 2002 12:00 am
Joe Valek of La Grande operates an excavating machine to break up the remaining pavement on McAlister Road Thursday afternoon. Becker Construction received the bid on the project. Paving is expected to begin the first week in August. (The Observer/LAURA MACKIE-HANCOCK).
Joe Valek of La Grande operates an excavating machine to break up the remaining pavement on McAlister Road Thursday afternoon. Becker Construction received the bid on the project. Paving is expected to begin the first week in August. (The Observer/LAURA MACKIE-HANCOCK).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Another $1 million was added this week to a massive $4 million highway modernization project already under way in Union County.

The state Transportation Commission voted this week to put the additional money into the project involving improvements to McAlister Road, Buchanan Lane, Cove Avenue, 26th and 27th streets.

The new money will go to adding more sidewalks on Buchanan and McAlister and for additional work on 26th Street between Buchanan and Highway 82, said Oregon Department of Transportation Region 5 Manager Tom Schuft.

The project, which has a completion date of October 2007, calls for modernizing the local streets so they alleviate some of the traffic on Highway 82.

The project was put together by ODOT in cooperation with the cities of La Grande and Island City and Union County.

The Transportation Commission approved the road improvements in January and work has already begun on the McAlister segment between Buchanan and Highway 30.

This week's funding — which totaled $100 million for 42 projects statewide — was the second round of money awarded under the Oregon Transportation Investment Act.

The January allocations amounted to $400 million and 131 projects statewide, including $39.4 million to replace six bridges on Interstate 84 west of La Grande. That bridge work has already begun.

The latest round of money included $9.5 million to repair a cracked bridge on I-84 in Umatilla County.

The funding program originally was approved by the state Legislature in 2001. The second round of funding this week was authorized by the first special session of the Legislature this year.

The state will use increased Department of Motor Vehicles fees to pay off the general obligation bonds sold to pay for the project. The state has sold $222 million in bonds for the work and probably will sell more this fall, officials said.

Counting the local matching funds, the 173 projects statewide will cost $646 million. It will be the most spent on Oregon road projects in the last 10 years.