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Interchange on schedule, but there's a long way to go

by: JEFF MCDONALD  - Crews from Roy L Houck Construction Co. of Salem spread asphalt on the edges of Highway 214 in Woodburn. The paving project is a temporary one as the highway will be expanded again next year. Construction activity is visible on many fronts around the Woodburn Interchange Project.

Crews scrambled to get paving work done after late September rains, working nights and weekends over the last few weeks, according to Lou Torres, spokesman for Oregon Department of Transportation.

“We’re just starting,” Torres said. “This is just the beginning. Things are moving along well. The heavy rains didn’t affect us much.”

Work being done included a temporary ramp off Interstate 5, the groundbreaking at the new KFC restaurant and the Transit Facility, which is expected to be completed by the end of October.

Two planned bus shelters are in the redesign phase and will be constructed in a month or two, Torres said.

Additionally, a new "Welcome to Woodburn" sign will be installed next year at the facility when the major paving work along the highway has been completed, said Jason Horton, communications coordinator for the city of Woodburn.

City officials do not expect to see any buses at the new Transit Facility because bus companies are not likely to schedule stops there while construction is ongoing over the next three years, Horton said.

“There has been a lot of interest, but there is nothing in the works right now to open a route at the Transit Facility,” Horton said. “Commuter buses are typically on a tight schedule, so they are not going to want to schedule a route where there might be delays.”

The transit facility will include two new electric vehicle charging stations, adding to the growing number of places along Interstate 5 where people with electric vehicles can stop and recharge.

“It’s a really important station,” said Ashley Horvat, ODOT’s transportation electrification project manager. “A lot of people are anxiously awaiting its opening.”

The Woodburn charging stations will add to a growing list of electric charging stations along the I-5 corridor and throughout the state, Horvat said.

Oregon has 57 fast-charging stations statewide, the most in the nation, according to Horvat.

Negotiations also are in progress to station another fast-charging EV station at the 76 gas station off the Aurora exit north of Woodburn, Horvat said.