Highway project overdue

By Observer editorial January 09, 2013 02:28 pm

Wags say there are two seasons in Oregon — winter and road construction. Well, the next three road construction seasons will be especially noticed by drivers in the La Grande area.

That’s because ODOT is undertaking a $43 million highway project on Interstate 84 near La Grande, expected to start next spring and be completed sometime in 2015.

The project may inconvenience drivers for a while. But in the long run the project will contribute to safety and keep wind in the sails of the economy.

The centerpiece of the project is an additional truck-climbing travel lane on the Spring Creek Grade about 11 miles west of La Grande, which should help keep traffic moving in winter when the weather gets nasty.

Face it. Interstate 84 is busy and getting busier. According to ODOT, about 9,500 vehicles go over the pass each day, about half of them tractor-trailer rigs. That works out to almost 200 trucks per hour.

 The project will include pavement resurfacing, replacement of a median barrier, bridge repairs and rock fall corrections. Improvements will also be made to the westbound truck chain-up area near the Union County Fairgrounds. 

Adding the truck-climbing lane will fix this historic bottleneck and reduce closures due to spinouts. The project is a big investment. But it’s worth it to keep traffic moving and drivers and passengers safe.