The Interstate 5 Interchange Project may be long from over, but officials say everything is coming together at the right LINDSAY KEEFER - Oregon Department of Transportation officials, including Woodburn Interstate 5 Interchange project manager Shane Ottosen (right), gave Rep. Betty Komp (left) and Sen. Peter Courtney (second from left), as well as some of their staff members, a tour of the interchange project Thursday.

“We’re on schedule and on budget,” said Lou Torres, spokesman for Oregon Department of Transportation.

“After the summer, we’ll have a much better handle on where we are, but for now we’re ahead of schedule,” said ODOT project manager Shane Ottosen.

Now that ODOT has reached a compromise with homeowners affected by the removal of one of two sequoia trees along High way 214, movement toward building a sound wall is rapidly progressing. The sequoia was felled Wednesday, clearing the way for the sound wall to be built from Country Club Road to Broughton Way.

“We’re going full speed ahead now to start construction on that sound wall in the next couple months,” Torres said.

ODOT will be working on five sound walls, spending $1.7 million, the first of which is being started in West Woodburn.

“We have the footings in and we hope to have that sound wall finished in the next month or so,” Torres said.

More expansion on the west side of I-5 includes improving traffic flow along Arney Road to Woodburn Premium PHIL HAWKINS - Construction workers look at what's left of a sequoia tree they felled last Wednesday. The tree and its neighboring sequoia have been the subject of controversy the past few months when ODOT proposed to remove the two trees because they were in the path of a proposed sound wall. An agreement was reached to keep one sequoia left standing.

“We’re trying to get it done by Black Friday because we have an agreement of no road closures during the holidays,” Ottosen said. “It will help Black Friday but it won’t fix it.”

Another imminent project is the new bridge, which is predicted to be finished by the end of the summer, Torres said.

“We’ll be widening the road and shifting traffic to the south side of (Highway) 214,” he said. “We’ve already done that on 219 and are going to announce when we’re ready to do that.”

Businesses along Highway 214 can already see where the road will be widening 25 feet to five lanes, plus a turn lane to get onto I-5, thanks to utility pole relocations.

It’s business as usual with most affected businesses, even KFC, which plans to open its new building on the corner of Highway 214 and Country Club Road by the first week of April, according to the city of Woodburn.

ODOT confirmed that Columbia Bank is moving to Evergreen Road, on the north side of Highway 214, to make room for the road widening project. It’s unclear when that move will take place.

The bank’s new location will be next to the Woodburn Transit Center, where the memorial for the fallen police officers in the December 2008 bank bombing will stand.

The transit facility, which was opened in early November, recently had new lights put in. It’s still not completely finished, as it still needs pavilions and electric vehicle charging stations. Torres said it will be a couple of months before those appear.

ODOT officials gave Senate President Peter Courtney and State Rep. Betty Komp a personal tour of the project Thursday, and both legislators were impressed.

“I have to say, things almost flow better than they used to,” Komp remarked about traffic.

Courtney expressed concern about the impact the construction has had on local businesses.

“Businesses have been very cordial,” Ottosen replied. “We’ve been working on mass mailings and keeping everyone informed.”

Both Komp and Courtney expressed their appreciation for the work ODOT is doing.

“I don’t get any calls so that must mean you’re doing something right,” Courtney said.

For their interest in the project, Ottosen presented Komp and Courtney with a quarter section of the original piles.

As for the overall pace of the project, Courtney said he was pleased.

“I’m glad to hear you’re ahead of schedule,” he told officials. “I’ll hold you to that.”

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