Gov. Kate Brown announces Monday the opening date of the thoroughfare will be in early January

Gov. Kate Brown, federal and state representatives, local officials and community members gathered together on a chilly Monday afternoon to celebrate the near completion of the Newberg-Dundee bypass with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.GARY ALLEN - Gov. Kate Brown speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday afternoon at the halfway point of the Newberg-Dundee bypass.

Flaggers directed traffic exiting Highway 219 to a parking area located about halfway between the two cities of the four-mile first phase of the bypass. The celebration commenced with the rhythmic beats of drums performed by members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

Brown announced toward the end of her comments that the opening date for the bypass is set for Jan. 6, more than month later than previously announced but still within the contractual requirements set between the Oregon Department of Transportation and the contractors on the project.

"We are here to celebrate the opening of the Dundee-Newberg bypass,: she said. "I'd like to describe this as the community that could. Some of you have been working on this project for 30 years? I heard 40 years when I came in, so congratulations."

Dave Haugeberg, chairman of the Yamhill County Parkway Committee, is one of the key players who saw the need for a solution from the congested traffic in the two towns back in 1988. "On Dec. 14, 1988, the parkway committee had its first meeting," he said. "We started talking about the incredible challenges, opportunities and difficulties of trying to create a transportation solution to a very difficult problem. The committee took the bull by its horns and set up meetings to talk with several agencies. We talked to ODOT, we talked to the governor's office, we talked to the congressional delegation, our local legislators and out of that we came up with a way to move forward."

When the bypass opens, travelers can enter the bypass off Highway 99W west of Dundee and Highway 219 south of Newberg. The bypass was designed to route traffic away from the two towns' downtown areas and reduce the congestion that has long been an inconvenience for locals, as well as cut commuting hours.

It took about five years to build the first phase of the thoroughfare at a cost of $252 million. Funding came from myriad sources, including the Jobs and Transportation Act, which provided the bulk at $190 million. The cities of Newberg, Dundee and McMinnville, as well as Yamhill County and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, donated a total of $20 million for the project.

ODOT brought the project in under budget, saving $10.5 million that will go toward the next phase.

"We are using $10.5 million that we saved from Phase One for right-of- way acquisition on Phase Two. Also, we are able to fund the Wilsonville Road realignment with about $7 million saved from Phase One," said Louis Torres, ODOT public affairs specialist. The original design for the bypass allowed northbound vehicles to exit the bypass onto Wilsonville Road to the east as well as to the north and south on Highway 219. Under threat of litigation from the Ladd Hill Neighborhood Association, ODOT redesigned the intersection to allow only exits north and south onto Highway 219.

The next step is to move forward with the second phase of the project.

"As (ODOT Director) Matt Garett mentioned, ODOT delivered completion of Phase One of the project on time and under budget and that's a very good thing," Brown said. "Thanks to their good work and the savings of the first phase we're ready to set our sight on Phase Two and a new connection to the Wilsonville Road that will improve the traffic flow."

ODOT has agreed to construct a new intersection connecting Wilsonville Road to Highway 219 south of Wynooski Road's intersection with the highway. The existing Wilsonville Road connection to Springbrook Road will be disconnected once the realignment is completed.

Completion of the new intersection is projected by mid-2020. In the meantime, ODOT has installed a median at the Springbrook-Wilsonville roads intersection to restrict traffic from making left turns. This was done because of the safety concerns with the increase of traffic flow from those coming off the bypass. The median will be removed when the new intersection is built.

"Thanks to the bipartisan efforts this last legislative secession we were able to pass Oregon's largest investment in transportation that includes 22 million dollars for Phase Two of the next part of the project," Brown said. "Phase two will connect the bypass at Highway 219 and at Highway 99W near Rex Hill east of Newberg."

The first phase of the bypass includes 10 bridges, including one bridge that is almost a half-mile long, and will be equipped with two TripCheck cameras to aid travelers in case of an emergency. If there is an emergency, ODOT included access gates for emergency vehicles to use along the route. The speed limit will be 55 mph on the two-lane thoroughfare.

"The Newberg-Dundee bypass is a prime example of how strategic transportation investments can both ease congestion and spur economic growth so that all Oregonians and every single community in this state can thrive," Brown said. "Once officially opened to commuters and truckers the Newberg-Dundee bypass is expected to reduce overall local area traffic by 30 to 40 percent. For heavy truck traffic, ODOT estimates the reduction will be between 50 and 75 percent, and that is also a very good thing."

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