Newberg-Dundee bypass cuts ribbon Monday, won't open until January
The Newberg-Dundee bypass ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and has been a long time coming. Gov. Kate Brown will be the keynote speaker.
But that doesn't mean the thoroughfare will open just yet.
"We can't open the road until the end of December or beginning of January," said Lou Torres, public information officer for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "Our contractor has until the end of December to finish the project. There could be four more days added to the contract, because of the eclipse period. We asked the contractors not to work on the roads during that time, because of the anticipated congestion. We are more or less on time."
Torres explained that ODOT wanted to do the ribbon cutting before the holidays, because around the holidays it would be difficult for people to attend.
"I think there is a lot of excitement and a lot of hope on the road," he said. "A lot of people did not think that it would ever happen. When we came up with the money to build it, it became a reality!"
The ceremony will take place at a half-way point between Dundee and Newberg to make a good meeting point for the community.
"Vehicles will be able to drive on parts of the bypass to park near the event; we will have people to direct the traffic," Torres said. "We hope that the weather will be good on the Monday afternoon. We are keeping our fingers crossed because the project is so big and there were so many people involved."
He added that the bypass was one of the most complicated road projects in the state. There was a lot of public outreach and community involvement, numerous public meetings with cities and counties, as well as land use laws to overcome.
"We had to go through a National Environmental Protection Act, a two-tier environmental impact assessment, because of the environmental impacts," he said. "First, we had to understand the bypass footprint, and second, would be the design of an alternative that would be acceptable to the community. Anytime you put in a new roadway, you will have to look at all impacts, the environmental such as noise pollution, noise and dirt. This bypass went through a lot of farmland with a large right-a-way and footprint."The state had to consider the fast growing Yamhill wine industry as many wineries are located off of Highway 99W.
The justification for the bypass was simple.
"The traffic grew a ton in the past 20 to 25 years with people trying to get to places and the roads became a gridlock and made it slow on commuter times," Torres said.
ODOT estimates the bypass will reduce traffic on Highway 99W and reduce around 60 to 65 percent of the truck traffic that passes through Newberg and Dundee.
"This will reduce noise and make it more attractive to business and the community," Torres said.
He added that he expects there will be a lot of enthusiasm for the opening of the thoroughfare.
"A lot of people will be emotional because it took a lot of hard work to get to this point," he said. "Gov. Brown understands that this project was important to the region and can mean a lot for the economy."