Buxton, Highway 26, Manning

ODOT plans four construction projects in region for 2021

A map showing four construction locations. ODOT/Google Maps

Four Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) projects in the region on Highway 26 are planned for 2021, including protective barriers on the Dersham Road overpass, repaving between Hayward Road and Mountaindale Road, replacing a culvert with a bridge near Buxton, and updating curve warning signs on Highway 26.

An online open house for these and other projects in Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook and western Washington Counties can be found here until January 15, 2021. 

A project on the Dersham Road overpass near North Plains will add protective bridge screening to prevent objects being dropped onto the highway below, a scenario which could injure passing motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians, ODOT said. 

Screening is also being set up at four other locations on Highway 22 in Salem; the five projects together will cost $796,914, according to ODOT. 

The paving project between Mountaindale and Hayward Roads will be a $4.1 million project to address a portion of Highway 26 that is in poor condition, according to ODOT. The project will also include repaving the ramps on Highway 47 adding permanent striping, and replacing two bridge surfaces and the waterproof membranes that sit under the asphalt in order to protect the bridge. 

While repaving — expected to be done at night — the highway, delays of up to 20 minutes can be expected with lane closures and flaggers directing traffic. 

The project to replace a failing culvert where Mendenhall Creek passes under Highway 26 with a bridge also features a plan to reconstruct the actual creek bed to improve fish migration routes for native species. Mendenhall Creek empties into West Fork Dairy Creek 110 feet past the culvert, according to a 2013 report on the Tualatin River Watershed from the Tualatin River Watershed Council. 

The project is near the intersection of Fisher Road and Highway 26, just west of the Time Gas station in Buxton.

The report noted that Coho salmon were seen in the creek for at least 2.8 miles from the mouth, but that the culvert had a six inch perch creating an obstacle for fish passage into Mendenhall Creek. 

With the culvert gone, fish such as salmon and steelhead will have easier access, passing under a single-span concrete bridge. The project is expected to cost $6.6 million. 

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The project to replace curve warning signs on Highway 26 is part of a wider effort to update recommended speeds on ODOT’s highways to meet national standards. According to ODOT, more than 50% of the state’s curve warning signs were determined with methods in decades past that do not reflect today’s vehicle safety features, driving habits, and inconsistency in curve speed advisories. 

“Because many curves have posted speed limits that are lower than the current standards for safe speeds, drivers often do not follow them. Instead drivers travel five, ten or more miles an hour over the posted curve speed limit,” the web page for the project read. 

The total cost for the portion of curve signs in Columbia, Clatsop, and Washington Counties on Highways 26 and 30 will cost  $1,809,509, with funding coming from the All Roads Transportation Safety (ARTS) Program.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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