Potholes fill with water Friday morning, Nov. 13, 2020, on French Street in Cove. The small town is set to resurface the street thanks to a windfall of funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

UNION COUNTY — In the never-ending war to rid the world of the scourge of potholes, several Union County towns won funds to take on the fight.

The Oregon Department of Transportation awarded a total of $370,000 to the cities of Cove, Imbler, Elgin and North Powder, all of which submitted requests for project funding. The small city governments plan to use the money to address some of the rougher roads under their respective purviews.

The funds were part of the Keep Oregon Moving transportation funding package, a bill the Oregon Legislature passed in 2017. The section of that package that funds small cities awarded a total of $5.2 million statewide for 54 projects, according to an ODOT press release.

“The Small City Allotment Funds program is aimed at helping smaller communities around the state with their roads, bridges and sidewalks,” said Shelley Snow, ODOT strategic communications coordinator. “The $5 million annual allocation of state funds specifically helps cities with population of less than 5,000. One of the best aspects of this program is that there isn’t a match requirement; sometimes those are hard to get or impossible for smaller cities.”

A majority of Union County’s towns meet that requirement. And as residents well know, those towns have no shortage of potholes to plug up.

The city of Cove received $100,000 for a project to lay 2 inches of new asphalt over sections of French, Hill and Second streets, an area just south of Cove School.

“It’s a main corridor in town,” said Dave Johnson, public works director for Cove. “There’s a lot of outside traffic that travels through there up to Moss Springs.”

Imbler received $100,000 to resurface a two-block section of Railroad Avenue between Main and Second streets, just east of the town’s main thoroughfare. According to Heather Berglund, Imbler city recorder, that project will join with another to improve Lonepine Avenue.

“Initially it was a one-part project,” Berglund said. “We were trying to get Lonepine and Railroad done as one. ... The roads are pretty beat up, there’s lots of potholes and wear and tear.”

Berglund said the city hoped work would start on the Lonepine section of the project this spring, with the Railroad section coming later in the summer.

To the north, the Elgin received $100,000 to replace a small bridge that spans a ditch on North 11th Street at the Fresno Street intersection. The funding also will pay for base repairs and chip sealing on Evanston Street and North Ninth Avenue.

North Powder received $70,000 to make improvements to the town’s school bus route, which was recently changed to run on Fourth and F streets.

“What we’re doing is trying to resurface a couple of the streets in town that have gotten so bad with potholes and stuff,” said Beth Wendt, city recorder for North Powder. “(North Powder school) changed their bus route, and in the process of that, with the additional weight of the bus on the street, there’s some pretty big potholes.”

Nearby Enterprise and Ukiah received awards of $100,000 each to make roadway repairs and improvements.

Snow said cities that have received funding will have to enter into agreements with ODOT to establish milestones, deadlines and other details. She also noted projects had to be completed within two years to be eligible.


Newest reporter with the La Grande Observer and Union County native. Coverage includes COVID-19, news stories, sports, business and community issues.

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