'Aggressive' amount of work underway, while right of way roadblocks remain

Whether it’s the increase in traffic delays, more trucks motoring through neighborhoods or the occasional 2 a.m. concrete pour, the Newberg-Dundee bypass project has been making its presence felt in recent months.ODOT - illustration courtesy of Odot
Highway 219 is being substantially widened to add lanes from south of the bypass intersection all the way north of the intersection with Springbrook Road, which itself is also being widened up to its intersection with Highway 99W.

“This summer is really the peak of the bypass construction,” Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Lou Torres said Monday. “We’ve got work going everywhere.”

During the fall, possibly in September, crews will be paving the west end of the bypass near Dundee, which is a substantial finishing touch on that section.

All of the bridges in that area are completed or close to it, Torres said.

This week crews will be pouring concrete bridge decks for a large, half-mile-long bridge. Work is also continuing on the bridge over Chehalem Creek, the Wynooski Road overpass, and more. Work on the bridge between River and Willamette streets is scheduled for a 2 a.m. start time this week, likely on Thursday or Friday. A confirmed date will appear via a sign between Eleventh Street near River Street in advance of the work.

As for the east end of the bypass with Highway 219 and the Springbrook Road section, Torres said the construction crews are making steady progress.

“It’s pretty aggressive, the amount of work we’re doing there,” he said.

Motorists stuck in delayed traffic might agree with that sentiment, as the heavily-traveled Springbrook Road and Highway 219 are experiencing major overhauls. Both roads are being substantially widened to add an array of turning lanes and simply to accommodate the projected large increase in traffic. Sound walls along the roads are almost complete, while signs and signals may soon be installed but covered until the bypass is opened.

“People are going to have some delays, there’s just no way around that,” Torres said.

Highway 219 is being widened south of its intersection with the bypass, to install a left turn lane onto the bypass and to add another northbound through lane.

The Springbrook Road and Highway 219 intersection is also being dramatically reworked, including a whopping four northbound lanes traveling north on Highway 219 from the south, two of them turn lanes and two straight through.

Torres estimated the bypass construction that is most impactful to the public is now underway, but that when it moves up to reconfiguring the intersection of Highway 99W and Springbrook Road that will also have a substantial impact on motorists. That is scheduled for next year.

Once that intersection is completed, the last piece of work will be connecting the bypass with Highway 219 to bring it all together.

As construction moves into the winter and spring next year, progress will be more visible than ever. Although many sections will start to look finished, Torres said there will still be a lot of connectivity work before the new five-mile highway can open up.

“It’ll look like it’s done, or there’s a lot of work that’s finished, but it’s really not quite done yet because we can’t put the finishing touches on it until we’re able to connect the sections,” he said. “It’ll be barricaded and coned off to try to minimize any confusion people will have.”

The first phase of the bypass is scheduled to open in late 2017.

Right of way purchases

Meanwhile, multiple substantial right of way processes are underway for future construction.

The first phase was originally planned to connect across Highway 219 directly with Wilsonville Road. But after a lengthy fight based on fears that traffic would be funneled off the bypass onto the winding and narrow road, the plans were altered during the spring.

Instead of connecting directly with Highway 219 across from the bypass, Wilsonville Road will curve to the south and connect with the highway at a point south of the Wynooski Road intersection. The idea is to dissuade drivers from utilizing the winding road as a convenient alternative to waiting in traffic to access Highway 99W.

But the new intersection also means ODOT needs to buy more right of way to build the redesigned Wilsonville Road.

Torres said ODOT is talking to affected property owners and approaching the negotiations phase, which ODOT estimated would impact two residential properties and one business. When the new design was chosen by the Newberg City Council earlier this year, ODOT estimated the intersection would cost about $7 million overall. It’s scheduled to be completed in July 2020.

Phase Two, which will travel from Highway 219 to the base of Rex Hill, is in a similar position with right of way purchases. ODOT has determined which properties need to be bought, and $10.5 million in savings from the first phase was recently allocated to the eventual purchase of that land.

“The process has started, were talking to the particular landowners and property owners,” Torres said. “When those purchases would be made official, I don’t actually know.”

He added that the right of way process generally takes about a year, “and that’s if it goes smoothly.”

There are still some compounding issues for right of way in the Phase Two corridor, including a proposed Oregon Clinic location on property owned by the Werth family west of Chehalem Glenn Golf Course. Depending on the alignment of the building, the clinic could fall partially within the planned bypass corridor for Phase Two.

When the city approved a requested zone change from industrial to residential-professional for the Werth land in 2006, a five-year restriction on development was attached to the bypass corridor to give bypass proponents more time to secure funding before development could begin in the corridor and possibly make right of way purchases cost prohibitive.

But five years passed in 2011, five more years have passed since then, and full funding has still not been secured.

The planned Phase Two path has already gone through a federal environmental impact analysis, and any change to the path – to travel around new development, for instance – would require federal review. The review would determine whether the changes are relatively minor or whether the environmental impact process would need to be reopened again.

City Manager Joe Hannan said the clinic has looked at three different sites west of the planned bypass path, as well as other nearby properties including the proposed Crestview Crossing land near the base of Rex Hill.

“For us, the big thing is we have been looking for alternative properties,” Hannan said. “We did not want to lose that clinic.”

The Phase Two right of way issues are scheduled to be discussed at September's Yamhill County Parkway Committee meeting.

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