Phase one begins after years of work
For many of the over 200 citizens and dignitaries who gathered to celebrate the beginning of the Newberg Dundee Bypass
(Phase 1) Project, it seemed this day would never come. So you couldn’t blame folks for arriving in a partying mood on August 29 for a special celebration/groundbreaking event that officially kicked off the start of a project everyone has been waiting for… literally for decades.
Held on a beautiful sunny day, the event included a 10 a.m. reception and 11 a.m. program. The celebration took place on land purchased by ODOT as part of the right of way acquisition, located in south Newberg near the east end of the eventual Phase 1 Bypass at Oregon 219. A vacant house and several outbuildings still remained on the property not far from where two large tents were set up in a field.
ODOT Director Matt Garrett said that this groundbreaking was one of the biggest in his 15 years with the department.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in terms of turnout, which represents the importance of this project,” he said. “I want to congratulate you for your perseverance, patience and determination to help make this important project a reality.”
Garrett was joined at the podium by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Governor Kitzhaber’s Transportation Policy Advisor Lynn Peterson, State Senator Larry George and Yamhill County Commissioner Leslie Lewis. The master of ceremonies for the event was ODOT Region 2 Manager Sonny Chickering. The Canoe Family from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde opened the program with a song of blessing.
Phase 1 of the Bypass includes a brand new 3.5 mile highway that will connect Oregon 219 at a newly signalized intersection and proceed through south Newberg and parallel to the Dundee city limits, where it will connect with Oregon 99W just southwest of Dundee. Phase 1 will include one travel lane in each direction, located on the westbound travel lanes of the eventual full Bypass.
While some construction activities on the Bypass will begin this fall and winter, much of the major construction will not begin until next year. When completed in 2016, the Phase 1 Bypass will help significantly reduce congestion in Newberg and Dundee and increase the livability in both communities. While existing traffic will decrease by as much as 40 percent in downtown Dundee, a major benefit will be the reduction of freight traffic in the downtown area by as much as 68 percent. Safety is also expected to increase substantially because there are a number of high crash locations on that stretch of Oregon 99W.
“Over the short term, the construction will produce hundreds of family-wage jobs,” Garrett said, referring to the positive economic impact of the project. “In the long term, it will increase the economic competitiveness for businesses in Yamhill County by reducing travel time and improving connections to the region transportation system.”
Before the groundbreaking, representatives of the tribe, the county and the cities of Newberg, Dundee and McMinnville presented ODOT with a large check that signified the local match — totaling $20 million for the project. The total project cost is estimated to be $262 million, of which $192 million came from Jobs and Transportation Act (JTA) passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2009.
The August 29 event was sponsored by ODOT and the Yamhill Parkway Committee. Numerous local businesses and other entities contributed everything from food and refreshments to large tents, a stage, public address system, tables, chairs and banners. One community member even donated some Unjam syrup (pictured above right), a tongue-in-cheek ode to the project easing future traffic congestion.