In January 2015, construction will begin on a project to move the intersection of Powerline Road and Highway 730 in Umatilla.
Earlier this week, Tim Rynearson, Northeast Area Project Team Leader for the Oregon Department of Transportation, went before the Umatilla City Council to unveil a preliminary plan for what that project may look like. Rynearson said the project’s primary purpose is to prevent traffic from backing up onto the Umatilla River Bridge while drivers wait to turn left onto Powerline.
“What we’re trying to do is get this access as far away from the bridge as we can,” Rynearson said. “The goal right now is to get this out to bid to a contractor in January 2014 and construction would take place January 2015.”
The design moves the intersection 800 feet west, away from the bridge, by creating a curved road through the undeveloped property along Highway 730. The state would buy the property necessary to expand the road, including right-of-ways.
A westbound left-hand turn lane will be added on Highway 730, and a connection from Dean Avenue to the newly-aligned Powerline Road will be constructed.
A portion of the current road will remain as a paved pedestrian and biking lane. The project is funded through the State Transportation Improvement Program, and funding does not include putting in sidewalks on the road extension, although the right-of-way is wide enough to include sidewalks in the future.
“Our biggest concern (with sidewalks) is what we do when we get people down to the highway. There are no sidewalks on that portion of Highway 730. We’d really like to encourage people to use the pedestrian access,” Rynearson said.
One Umatilla resident expressed his unhappiness with the lack of sidewalks.
“I think this is sour,” Umatilla resident John Nichols said. “It’s poorly planned and engineered.”
The state is planning an open house on the project next month for community input.
“We want to hear what people say,” Rynearson said.