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Construction looms on interchange project

With the Woodburn Interchange Project about to begin, expect to see some big changes east and west of Interstate 5.

All the right-of-way negotiations, preconstruction meetings and utility relocations are nearly completed and construction is scheduled to begin July 30, said Shane Ottosen, project manager for Oregon Department of Transportation.

“People will start seeing mobilization,” Ottosen said. “The good news is that the first phase is mainly off the road.

“I wish we could say that for the whole project.”

City leaders are ready for the $70 million project to get started, but face the reality that its short-term effect will be disruptive.

“It’s been such a long process - people don’t believe it is happening,” said Mayor Kathy Figley. “People may not have been stuck in traffic much yet, but it’s going to change the way people do things for a while.” by: BY JEFF MCDONALD  - Oregon Department of Transportation crews demolished the KFC restaurant on Highway 214 last week as they prepared for the July 30 start date of the Woodburn Interchange Project.

Last week’s demolition of the KFC caught the franchise operator, Fred Jackson, by surprise.

Oregon Department of Transportation construction equipment took down the restaurant, which sits right in the path of what will be the reconfigured highway.

“That’s ODOT’s property now,” said Jackson, who did not know the demolition had taken place. “They’re trying to get their road going.”

Jackson is unsure when construction will start on the new KFC in the same lot to the north of the previous one, but it will be a 100-day construction process, he said.

While the old KFC building has become a pile of rubble, demolition also will soon begin on a Union 76 station across the road. Chevron also has been forced to take out two of its fuel pumps for the earliest stage of construction. A new Dutch Bros. Coffee stand, meanwhile, is just weeks away from opening at the intersection of Evergreen Road and Highway 214.

Starting this week, construction vehicles will be staged off Stacy Allison Way near the Walmart parking lot, Ottosen said.

During the initial stage of construction, crews will be “clearing and grubbing,” or removing the top layer of dirt on which the new Transit Facility and Park and Ride will be built, Ottosen said. Other work will include hauling in stone for an embankment beneath the I-5 overpass, which will we widened and double in size within a year and a half.

“We want them to get that fill built up as quick as they can,” he said.

“They may try to get two to three feet of stone embankment down before the rains come.”

Official groundbreaking on the project, which was postponed from earlier this month, will take place Monday at 10 a.m., according to ODOT.

Local, state and federal dignitaries, including Figley and U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader, are expected to speak at the event.

Construction will begin the following day, according to ODOT.