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Section of Villa Road to be closed until September

Project to replace Hess Creek culverts requires road closure near train tracks as first phase of Villa Road work begins

Villa Road will be closed near the train trestle for much of the summer as construction crews begin work on an improvement project and travelers will be detoured to Meridian Street.

The closure begins July 11 and will continue until sometime in September.

This summer’s portion of the improvement project is all about replacing culverts, which allow Hess Creek to travel under the road. The culverts in place now are simply normal pipes, and the incoming devices add some new benefits – besides being required by updated environmental laws.PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF NEWBERG - flooding of the roadway, such as what happened last December, but it means Villa Road will be closed for roughly two months this summer.

Since Hess Creek is classified as a fish-bearing stream, the new “arch” culverts are designed to be wider with an open bottom allowing essentially a regular streambed, making for a more fish-friendly passage through the tunnels.

“In theory the fish don’t know they’re going through a culvert,” Project Manager Jason Wuertz said.

But the culverts will also have an impact more apparent to the human population: they can absorb an increase in flow far better than the old pipes.

So when the city receives major rainfall very quickly – think December of last year – rather than pooling up and flooding the roadway, Hess Creek will theoretically continue traveling under the street as usual despite the higher volumes.

The December storm was a 100-year storm, which the new culverts are designed to withstand.

“This fixes that problem,” Wuertz said.

Installing the culverts is no simple task. During the $919,139 project the contractor will tear up the road and dig out the old culverts. Since the stream doesn’t stop flowing, crews will install a temporary stream bypass system.

A detour route will redirect Villa Road traffic to use Meridian Street by way of Fulton Street or Crestview Drive.

Wuertz said the closure is certainly going to be inconvenient, but that there’s no way to avoid it given the scope of the work.

“If you think about it, you’re basically opening up a creek across the road, so there’s no really good way to maintain travel,” Wuertz said. “It won’t be drivable.”

This is the first phase of the Villa Road Improvement Project. Beginning next spring the city plans to start actual roadway improvements; from Haworth Avenue to Park Street there are planned to be full improvements on both sides, including sidewalks and bike lanes.

For more information, visit www.newbergoregon.gov/engineering/project/villa-road-improvement-project.