>Department of Corrections will pave the gravel roadway east of Juniper Hills Park out to its proposed prison facility
News Editor
   Jan. 30, 2002 -- The Oregon Department of Corrections has selected Ashwood Road to be the primary route to its proposed 200-acre prison facility on 453 acres of property it owns three miles east of Madras.
   The DOC selected Ashwood over Loucks Road, which had been eyed as a possible route to the facility. It is slated to open in 2004 as a 400-bed men's minimum-security prison.
   "First off, it's the community's choice and always has been and it's about a million dollars cheaper than the Loucks Road route," said Doug Young, New Prison Construction Manager for the Department of Corrections.
   Ashwood Road will be paved and upgraded to rural street standards on the gravel stretch that begins just east of Juniper Hills Park and extends out to the prison site. Loucks Road will serve as an emergency-vehicles only access route.
   The portion of Ashwood Road already paved will not be widened to accomodate additional vehicles. The prison is expected to generate 1,400 trips per day. A traffic impact study conducted by Kittleson & Associates suggests that 190 vehicles will use the route during both morning and evening peak hours.
   The land-use consulting firm concluded that area traffic, including vehicles traversing 4th and 5th streets plus the junction of U.S. highways 97 and 26, could potentially be slowed less than 1 second during peak morning hours and less than 10 seconds during evening peak hours.
   Vehicles will include 53-foot semi trucks.
   "People shouldn't envision 1,400 vehicles at once coming down Ashwood Road," said Becky Lu Hummer, DOC Jefferson County Community Development Coordinator.
   Hummer said the DOC was still determining whether to pave Ashwood Road all the way to the south end of its 453-acre site or take a more direct route to the eastern edge of the property. In that scenario, the department would use Henderson Road to cross through land held by private property owners.
   "There have been those thoughts but we have not successfully negotiated anything -- no agreements formally or informally," Young said.
   The paving of Ashwood Road could begin this summer or early fall.
   Department of Corrections officials say they are also close to completing an agreement with the Deschutes Valley Water District for a water rights permit. They hope to have water on site by this December and eventually hold 500,000 gallons in a storage tank.
   Despite ambiguous warning signs last fall that prison funding could be in jeopardy when Salem announced the state faced a $720 million shortfall, ground-breaking for the Madras prison is still on scheduled.
   The Department of Corrections had selected six minimum-security facilities to be closed as part of a 10-percent spending reduction, but Hummer said legislators have chosen not to go that route.
   "The governor's recommended rebalance does not include closure of any buildings," Hummer said. "The forecasted need is still there."
   The Madras-area state prison is scheduled to open by July of 2004. Phase II of construction is expected to be completed in June of 2006, upgrading the facility to a 1,300-bed men's medium security facility.
   The prison is expected to bring an enormous economic boost to the area by employing 100-150 workers as a minimum-security facility and 400-500 as a medium-security prison. When fully completed, the estimated annual payroll of the facility's staff could be as large as $22 million.
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