ALBANY, Ore.-- The Oregon Department of Transportation is conducting an environmental analysis focused on how best to expand a section of Interstate 5 between the south Jefferson exit and the Highway 20 interchange.
Designed in the 1960s, officials said this section of roadway through Albany is not equipped to handle the increase in vehicles and highway speeds.
The proposed changes would put a new interchange in Millersburg to replace two current interchanges that send some cars out onto I-5 for a short distance.
By combining the two interchanges (Knox Butte and Highway 20), engineers would provide a single connection onto I-5.
“The city of Albany, the city of Millersburg, and Linn County have long expressed a desire for these types of improvements, and have contributed a substantial share of funding for the environmental assessment that we’re conducting right now to get these projects ready for construction,” says David Helton, a transportation land use planner with the Oregon Department of Transportation.
ODOT study is weighing several options, and how each decision might impact the people, business, and wildlife in the area.
Officials expect to complete the environmental analysis in 2014. At that point, ODOT will determine the most appropriate type of interchange and design, and attempt to seek funding with agency partners.
Planners are considering ways to fund the improvements in phases, prioritizing those improvements that are most needed.
Longtime resident, Valauri Edley, believes the expansion of I-5 is overdue.
“We’re a growing town, and we need out freeway widened. Every single day, I can step out my porch and see where traffic just inches,” she told out news team.
The entire project is estimated to cost somewhere between $360-435 million. Construction is still a ways out as ODOT will need both local and federal funding.