Six-Year Collaborative Road Project in City of Umatilla Now Complete

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Wanapa Road, a collaborative project in Umatilla that has been in the works since 2013 is now complete.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), the city of Umatilla, Port of Umatilla, and Oregon Department of Corrections announced the completion of Wanapa Road today.

The project has been in the works since 2013 when the Oregon legislature, with leadership from Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner), passed a bill appropriating $3.5 in lottery bond proceeds to build a road and utility infrastructure accessing previously landlocked properties owned by the Port, CTUIR, and the Department of Corrections.

The city of Umatilla will own and maintain the road. Wanapa Road starts at Beach Access Road and ends one mile due east on a 120-acre industrial parcel owned by CTUIR. CTUIR provided staff for project management, and the project wasn’t without challenges, according to Bill Tovey, CTUIR’s director of Economic and Community Development.

“We have a list of about twenty federal, state, local, and tribal agencies and departments that we had to coordinate with at various times throughout project planning and construction,” Tovey said. “There were a couple delays, but we’ve had great support at the local level and are really pleased with the result. Hopefully this infrastructure investment will attract new industry and new jobs to the area.”

As it heads east, the road passes seven 20-acre lots owned by the Port of Umatilla that previously had limited or no infrastructure access, as well as a 160-acre port lot just south of the CTUIR’s industrial parcel. As the road was being designed, Port of Umatilla General Manager Kim Puzey worked to ensure electrical vaults and utility stub-outs were installed at intervals to serve those properties.

The land on which Wanapa Road was built was contributed to the project by the Department of Corrections, which owns roughly 150 acres of undeveloped land east of Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI). The road serves that parcel as well, enabling future growth of the prison or other development opportunities.

TRCI Superintendent Troy Bowser and other corrections staff worked closely with the project team to minimize operational disruptions.

“TRCI is a proud member of our community and values the coordination and cooperation by CTUIR and the city of Umatilla during construction of Wanapa Road,” Bowser said. “Wanapa Road provides greater access for supplies, and services to assist TRCI in meeting the needs of our local community, and keeping our local citizens safe as we continue to grow and prosper.”

The city of Umatilla has played a critical role in the development of Wanapa Road, as well. Seeing the potential for new jobs and a growing industrial tax base, city leadership has been supportive of the project from early on.

The Umatilla City Council approved a land use exception to provide sewer service to the CTUIR property, and the city’s administrative staff and public works department were active contributors throughout construction.

“It is an exciting time in Umatilla where we are experiencing the cultivation of partnership demonstrated through the sharing of combined expertise and resources with a look into a brighter future,” said Umatilla City Manager Dave Stockdale.  “Some may consider Wanapa Road simply a road, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but this project was much more. This road symbolizes the collaboration of tribal, state, port, and city governments working together to enhance community and economic development that supports the current and future needs of our great community. We are so pleased to celebrate this collaborative achievement and partnerships, and look forward to celebrating the future economic fruits of these labors.”

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