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The Dalles freeway fix

The Oregon Department of Transportation will be repaving almost 4 miles of Interstate 84 next year that will reduce travel to one lane in both directions and bring occasional night closures.

Brett DeHart, project leader for the state agency, told The Dalles City Council Monday that construction is slated to begin by March 2015 and be completed by the end of next year. The project will extend from milepost 84.3 to the Fifteenmile Creek bridge at milepost 88.1.

DeHart said the existing concrete had been in place since 1966 so it was time for replacement.

“We will be digging out 8 inches of concrete and replacing it with 12 inches — and putting 2 inches of asphalt beneath that,” he said. “We anticipate this reinforced concrete could be in place for 50-60 years.”

He said freeway on and off ramps will remain open during construction except when paving necessitates closures, which typically takes place at night when there is less traffic.

“The interchange ramps are in good condition so we won’t be repaving those,” said DeHart.

The $18-20 million project also includes construction of a new bridge over Threemile Creek, which currently flows through a concrete box culvert. DeHart said it was more cost effective to build the bridge while other construction was underway, although the box culvert will be removed as part of another project in 2017.

He said the culvert is filling with sediment due to a change in the creek’s flow line and that impedes fish passage.

As part of the freeway work, he said the median barriers will be replaced with taller models that provide greater safety for trucks, which use the freeway in large numbers.

Mayor Steve Lawrence expressed concern that higher barriers might block the view of the city for westbound motorists and cause a loss in tourism trade.

“That’s a double-edge sword, since there are some spots that we don’t want people to see,” he said.

The city will be landscaping the wastewater treatment plan on First Street to make that view more aesthetically pleasing. Officials are encouraging private companies to also plant trees that will shield unattractive industrial operations from a freeway view.

Councilor Tim McGlothlin asked the ODOT representative if local labor would be used in the construction project.

“That all depends on who gets the contract,” replied DeHart, who was encouraged to advocate for a workforce of local contractors.

McGlothlin said the area of the freeway slated for repairs is “very rough” and city officials were thankful that ODOT would be improving the roadway.

“We’re very appreciative it’s on the docket,” he said.

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