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South junction undergoing transformation

The realignment project will cost an estimated $1.2 million
General Editor
   March 20, 2002 — Sculpting work is being done by earthmovers near the U.S. 97/Prineville Highway junction south of Madras in preparation for realigning the junction with Colfax Lane.
   Currently, the Prineville Highway (U.S. 26) enters U.S. 97 at a sharp skew angle, and there is no left turn lane on U.S. 97. The lack of a turn lane has caused traffic to backup while waiting for vehicles to turn. There have also been several accidents at the intersection.
   Two weeks ago, contractor Goodfellow Brothers Inc. of Clackamas began excavation work to widen Highway 97 by five feet on both sides in order to fit in the turn lane.
   The $1.2 million project is being done by the Oregon Department of Transportation, and is funded through the 2000-2003 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
   ODOT Public Information Representative Dan Knoll said the plan is to "eliminate the current intersection and have the Prineville Highway T-up with Colfax Lane. It will make the intersection a lot safer, and will allow traffic to pass through as somebody is making a left turn."
   Knoll said the timeline calls for "clearing and grubbing" of trees on the road sides for widening, and placing storm sewer crossings during the rest of March.
   From April 1 through 15, an aggregate road base will be placed, then concrete curbs and driveways. In mid-May the asphalt road will be inlaid, and new guardrails and signage put up.
   "It's a real quick project and should be completed by the end of May," Knoll said.
   During paving, however, only one lane of traffic will be allowed to pass through the area and there will be flaggers on duty.
   A notice went out March 15, that ODOT was reducing the legal speed in the construction area while work continues.
   The speed limit will be 45 mph for northbound traffic on Highway 97, just north of the Central Oregon Livestock Auction Yard. The speed drops to 35 mph at the junction of Highway 97 and the Prineville Highway.
   Southbound traffic is reduced from 45 mph south of Madras to 35 mph at the junction, then back up to 45 mph. Electronic message signs are posted at each end of the project to alter motorists of the speed change. Speeds will remain reduced until the project is completed.
   The speed changes are necessary because the road widening leaves no shoulder and an edge along the roadway. Motorists are encouraged to slow down, proceed with caution, and be aware of their surroundings while driving through the work zone.
   Drivers are reminded that traffic fines are double in work zones and the Oregon State Police will be patrolling the area.