$43M project planned

June 18, 2012 12:00 am
 Public can learn about multi-year project,
that stretches from La Grande to Kamela,
at meeting Thursday
Staff report

The Oregon Department of Transportation will host a public open house meeting 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the ODOT Region 5 Headquarters in La Grande, located at 3012 Island Ave. 

The meeting is being held to share information and hear comments regarding ODOT’s $43 million I-84 Kamela Interchange – Second Street undercrossing project that will begin being constructed in 2013. The work will extend along the interstate between the Kamela Interchange at Exit 246 and the Second Street undercrossing in La Grande at mile post 260.2. 

The multi-year project will resurface the fast / inside lane with new asphalt and place concrete in the outside lanes of the freeway, replace functionally obsolete median barrier, repair bridges, construct rock fall corrections, add truck chain-up areas and build a westbound truck climbing lane along the Spring Creek grade. 

Persons interested in hearing more about the project are encouraged to attend this public meeting.

 “The section of I-84 between Meacham and Ladd Canyon historically experiences premature pavement failure and early truck chain rut damage,” said ODOT Project Leader Ken Patterson regarding the resurfacing phase of the project. “As a result of this, the asphalt pavement surface in the slow lane along this section lasts approximately eight years instead of the 15 years normally predicted. 

By replacing the asphalt with concrete, we should be able to get 35 years or more of useful life of the road surface.” 

 ODOT is utilizing several funding sources to complete the project, including Jobs and Transportation Act funds passed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, Federal Interstate Maintenance funds, plus transportation safety and operations money.

 The westbound truck climbing lane will be added between mile posts 246 and 248 to provide more room for vehicles to pass slow moving trucks as they ascend the steep 6 percent Spring Creek grade. The existing slow lane and the new truck lane will be constructed with a concrete surface for durability. This phase of the project has been in the planning stages for years and will receive $5.2 million in JTA Modernization funds.

 “The six percent Spring Creek grade is an historical bottleneck on the freeway due to the slow speeds of commercial vehicles climbing the hill,” Patterson said. “During winter weather, frequent spin outs have resulted in freeway closures that can take several hours to clear up. The new third travel lane will help alleviate some of these issues and keep traffic moving up and over the hill.”

 New, taller median barrier has already been stockpiled by ODOT along the freeway near the work area. When a final contract is awarded, the old, sub-standard barrier that is deteriorating in places will be removed and the new barrier installed.

 Several new or extended truck chain-up areas will be constructed along the side of the interstate to provide more room for commercial vehicles to install and remove chains during winter weather events. 

A new, 10-foot-wide chain-up area will be added along the eastbound freeway near mile post 253.5. Existing eastbound and westbound chain-up sites at mile post 249 will be extended to create more room for trucks. 

The project will also add illumination to several of these sites if funding allows. An existing chain up area near La Grande, at mile post 259.5 is being considered for added illumination. Public input on the potential illumination, especially near La Grande, is requested.

  “Adding more chain-up areas along the snow zones of major state routes has been a key focus in Oregon over the past several years,” Patterson said. “They help reduce the number of trucks parked along the shoulders to install chains, which is a safety concern for all drivers.”

 Additional components of the project include minor bridge repairs, plus adjustments to the rock cut near mile post 259 to help reduce the amount of debris falling onto the freeway. The rock fall work will widen an existing bench part-way up the wall and add a berm to help catch falling materials. The modifications will also provide more room for maintenance crews to access the site for routine debris removal.

 Interested parties unable to attend the meeting can also contact Patterson by phone at 541-963-1365, or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it