Oregon’s new $5.3 billion transportation package contains $10.8 million to repave U.S. Highway 26 between the turnoffs for Jewell and Hamlet.
The project is one of three in Clatsop County funded by the long-awaited cash infusion from Salem to help repair and improve the state’s highways and roads.
The transportation package, approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, will also fund the replacement of the deck on the Lewis and Clark River Bridge. The state has already performed extensive work on the substructure, with a more lightweight variant compatible with the components of the 92-year-old span.
“This bridge is one of the premier historic bridges in the state,” said Lou Torres, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. “If this project is not done, the deck will continue to degrade and may require significant maintenance to remain in service.”
The third project involves engineering work to replace a culvert on Oregon Highway 202 along the Youngs River at milepost 3.6.
The law’s projects were inserted into the larger State Transportation Improvement Plan covering 2018 through 2021. As of December, the plan included more than $100 million worth of work in District 1, which covers Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook and a small portion of northwestern Washington counties.
Fixing bad pavement
In the early 1980s, ODOT’s District 1 Manager Mark Buffington said, the state experimented with a larger, more porous grade of asphalt known as F-mix in places like Highway 26.
“The idea is that water flows through F-mix for drainage purposes,” he said. “And we have a lot of springs out there, so they were having trouble with drainage off that stretch of road.”
But the F-mix was topped with 2 inches of B-mix, a tighter pavement. Buffington said. “What they ended up doing was like taking a sponge, like foam rubber, and then putting a piece of plastic on top of it,” he said.
Water comes up through the F-mix, freezes, breaks off portions of the B-mix on top and causes large potholes along highways, he said. The paving project funded by the transportation package will grind through and replace both pavement layers from shoulder to shoulder on Highway 26 between the turnoffs for Oregon highways 53 and 103, replacing them with a tighter, single layer of asphalt.
Beyond the new package
Clatsop County is slated to receive more than $51 million worth of highway work in the larger transportation improvement plan. Nearly half is for continued painting of deck trusses on the Astoria Bridge.
The state will spend $6.7 million replacing F-mix on a 6-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 between Ecola Creek and the Arch Cape tunnel. By 2021, District 1 will have about 79 miles worth of F-mix left to replace, at a rate of about 10 miles every two years, Buffington said.
One of the more impactful projects will be the replacement of the deck and other safety features on the New Youngs Bay Bridge from the Astoria approach to Neptune Drive in Warrenton in 2021, Buffington said. The $2.5 million project will temporarily reduce traffic on the bridge to eastbound-only and reroute traffic into Highway 101 Business.
“Anything from Astoria to Warrenton will have to use the detour,” Buffington said, adding the project would be timed during lower-traffic months in the winter.
Other major projects proposed between 2018 and 2021 include:
• $3.6 million to replace a culvert on Highway 26 at Rock Creek.
• $2.1 million to install a left-turn lane on the westbound side of Highway 101 at Fort Stevens, along with a U-turn.
• Nearly $1.8 million to replace the substructure and other features of a bridge over the Klaskanine River on Youngs River Road.
• More than $1.6 million to construct sidewalks and bike lanes along Marine Drive in Astoria from Dresden to Fourth streets.
• $400,000 in engineering work to prepare for the replacement of a bridge over Ecola Creek on Highway 101.