EDDYVILLE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Under construction for more than six years now, a massive coastal highway reroute project west of Corvallis is facing more major problems and a record cost.
In a statement put out by ODOT on Wednesday, the state agency says landslide mitigation work near several planned bridges on the U.S. Highway 20 Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville project has failed.
The U.S. Highway 20 reroute began in June 2005 as a 140-million dollar project to straighten about 10 miles of curvy road between Corvallis and Newport, specifically, near Eddyville.
Today, the project has cost ODOT 208 million dollars and additional planned work has the cost pegged near a 230 million dollar total.
The problems surround four bridges in the middle of the ten mile reroute. The first bridge with problems is the “Eddy C” bridge, the only completed bridge on the project. ODOT says the design builders and contractor, Yaquina River Constructors, has determined that continued landslides at the site have compromised the bridge. ODOT says the bridge’s fate is “undetermined.”
The site of two other bridge supports, “Crystal Creek” and “Cougar Creek,” have seen significant ground movement as well. A “bent” on the Cougar Creek bridge was also found to be out of plumb.
Columns on the fourth bridge, labeled “Eddy B,” were demolished in March 2010. No other work has taken place on it since demolition.
Crews haven’t worked on the project in almost two years. ODOT says it will be at least another two construction seasons before the work can be completed.
Near the highway, Bob Rudel owns Rain Forest Mushrooms, which grows organic gourmet mushrooms for sale. Down the road, Norman Barker owns a small Christmas tree farm near his home outside of Eddyville.
Both say no matter the cost, they want to see the project finished.
“They need to go ahead and finish the job. You know, to go this far and abandon it.. Would be just admitting that you're wasting the taxpayer’s money,” says Barker.
“It's not where are we at today, or where are we going to be in 50 years when there's 3 times as many people here on the Oregon Coast driving back and forth on this little road. Countless lives will have been lost if they don't build that road,” says Rudel.
ODOT says Yaquina River Constructors is now working on a design to forgo the four bridges, instead building the road on the ground. The bridges, some of which call for flying 100 to 200 feet over the ground, were originally designed to avoid sensitive areas over four creek drainages.
ODOT says the project is mostly complete, except for the middle bridge-filled section. It’s hoping to get crews working on it once again in summer 2012.
To read the latest information on the project, visit ODOT’s project website at the following link: http://us20pme.com/. On the page, click the “latest news” link to read the November 2011 update.