Reconstruction of Highway 99W through town well underway at a cost of snarled traffic

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Highway 99W will remain torn up for several more months as a contractor for the Oregon Department of Transportation reconstructs the thoroughfare through Dundee.

The multimillion-dollar project to transform the major arterial through Dundee is well underway, with crews hard at work as motorists do their best to navigate a phalanx of construction equipment, bright orange cones and neon yellow-clad workers.

Kerr Contractors, the successful bidder on the project that will cost nearly $15 million before it is finished, began work on the project in February that will completely overhaul the roughly half-mile stretch of Highway 99W from First Street to Parks Drive.

The design for the project calls for new sidewalks, streetlights and other accoutrements, but not before the entire bed of the heavily traveled thoroughfare is rebuilt and new pavement installed. Some crews arrived early in order to place many of the utilities underground, including the city's main water pipe, before the project started in earnest. Also included in the build are ADA ramps, enhanced pedestrian crossings, new and renovated drainage areas, installation of water treatment areas, stormwater improvements and landscaping.

Dundee residents have been awaiting reconstruction of the road for many, many years.

"We are not positive on how long it has been in the works," said Lou Torres, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "We heard that initial discussions may have started as far back as 2005. It was initially included as a local project in the 2013 State Transportation Improvement Program."

The project was delayed in anticipation of the onset of work on the Newberg-Dundee bypass, again for several years as the bypass was constructed and then for an additional two-plus years as ODOT and the city tackled the design and the pair formulated a plan for funding construction.

"Initially, we wanted to complete Phase 1 of the Newberg-Dundee bypass so it would provide an easy alternative route for travelers who wanted to avoid construction on OR 99W through Dundee," Torres said. "However, it wasn't the only reason for the delay. The scope of the project expanded considerably as we understood that there was much more work that was needed. This was not just a simple paving project. The additional work also prompted more requirements, such as finding significantly more funding to complete the project and the time required to do the work. In addition, the city of Dundee had work that it needed to do, as this was a project we were working on together."

Work toward a better thoroughfare through town comes with snarled traffic, with lines of vehicles especially backed up during high commuting hours in the morning and evening.

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