City officials are doubtful of federal funding for the bypass
Despite what officials were calling promising talks with state and federal officials and the Yamhill County Parkway Committee during the late winter, undertaking the next phase of the Newberg-Dundee bypass still faces uphill challenges.
Newberg Mayor Rick Rogers, who traveled to Washington, D.C., this past winter to meet with Oregon delegation for funding on this project, said at this point it doesn't seem as if funding will be available for the project.
"We were putting in a concerted effort to get it completed," Rogers said. "I'd love to see movement on it, but there's always politics involved."
Construction of the first phase of the bypass, which stretches from its northern terminus at Highway 219 to Dundee, came in more than $10 million under budget.
The surplus was utilized by the Oregon Department of Transportation for right-of- way acquisition for land in the second phase, which will run from the Highway 219 terminus, between Chehalem Glenn Golf Course and Providence Newberg Medical Center, to Highway 99W at the base of Rex Hill.
Construction of the first phase of the bypass cost $242 million, with $192 million coming from the state, $30 million from the federal government, $16 million from Yamhill County and $4 million from the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.
Money earmarked in the form of two bills before the Oregon Legislature, House Bills 5005 and 5006,would have added more than $32 million to the effort to construct the second phase of the project, but the allocations were removed before the bills were passed.
City Councilor Patrick Johnson, a member of the parkway committee, said "the end of the session was chaotic, unpredictable and a mad scramble to get to the end. While the parkway committee had worked very hard lobbying all of our elected officials, the $32 million we were hoping to get that was in the governor's budget wasn't included.
"We met with the governor, our legislative delegation and even had a day at the capitol during the session. I spent about three days lobbying in the capitol building, and we were able to educate a lot of legislators about the project."
Johnson added that a proposed federal infrastructure package was put on hold during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic leadership in May. That meeting lasted all of three minutes before Trump left to address reporters in the Rose Garden.
"I think that was the death knell for getting funding this session for the bypass," Johnson said. "Without the opportunity for matching dollars, there was no sense of urgency after that. That's my opinion."
Johnson added that he remains optimistic over the accomplishments, saying that asking for $150 million to construct the second phase of the project will be a multi-year effort. He said the Oregon Department of Transportation has funding available and is working on purchasing a right of way, so work continues.
"We should see the Wilsonville Road realignment project out to bid this year with construction hopefully in 2020," he said. "I think we can all agree that the concrete barrier on Springbrook Road isn't ideal and hopefully the connectivity issues between Wilsonville Road and Newberg can be fixed in the next couple of years."
Johnson thanked Rogers for letting him take the lead on this project and thanked state Rep. Bill Post for advocating for the project. Johnson said Post "sees the impacts the unfinished bypass is having on north Marion County with the recent fatal crashes on McKay Road."
"While the outcome wasn't what we were after, it is always a very positive experience when you have regional partners, all on the same page, working toward a common goal," Johnson said.
The 2017 Legislature, in passing House Bill 2017, earmarked $22 million for the second phase of the bypass. An estimated $120 million would remain in funding before construction of the next phase of the project could be undertaken.
The final phase of the project, which would stretch from Dundee to the Highway 18/99W junction at McDougal's Corner, is estimated to run $264 million.
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