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O'Neil Highway @ Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad /Prineville Junction (Redmond)

Project overview

The project consists of a realignment of O’Neil Highway to North Canal Boulevard and the US97 interchange at the north end of Redmond. The road and bridge improvements under consideration and evaluation include: 
  • A realignment of O’Neil Highway at Prineville Junction, to eliminate the two sharp curves
  • A new bridge on the O’Neil Highway that crosses over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway line, which eliminates the at-grade crossings of O’Neil Highway from all of the BNSF and City of Prineville Railway (COPR) tracks at Prineville Junction
  • A new bridge on O’Neil Highway/Pershall Way that crosses over US 97 to resolve the existing safety issues at the intersection (O’Neil Junction)
  • A realignment of O’Neil Highway just west of Lone Pine Road (approx. MP 4 – MP5) in Crook County, to eliminate two sharp curves
  • Re-designating and signing the existing O’Neil Highway section between US 97 and North Canal Boulevard to the O’Neil Highway/North Canal Boulevard intersection, south along North Canal Boulevard to the new interchange on the US 97 Redmond Reroute.  This would include improvements along North Canal Boulevard to meet the functional needs of a District Highway

What problem will this solve?

The purpose of the project is to eliminate at-grade railroad track crossings on the O’Neil Highway at Prineville Junction, improve curves that now limit truck movements and restrict lengths on the O’Neil Highway, upgrade the roadway structure and safety conditions on the west end of the corridor, and ensure safe access to US 97 for traffic, including freight, from the O’Neil Highway. 
The importance of this project is multi-faceted with highway safety being the highest priority. 

At-grade roadway/track crossings 
A regional rail planning effort was completed for Central Oregon in 2009, with primary focus on resolving public at-grade railroad crossing safety and congestion issues. The BNSF railway runs north-south through Madras, Redmond, and Bend. With the rising volumes of rail traffic and the expanding lengths of trains coupled with a limited number of bridge crossings, the BNSF railway has effectively become a barrier to east-west travel for motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. This combination of increasing rail and roadway traffic poses an increase in safety hazards for at-grade crossings. 

Truck length restrictions 
O’Neil Highway is one of Central Oregon’s major aggregate haul routes from large multiple quarries in Crook County, which are important to the regional economy.  The length restrictions have forced long loads (over 52 feet) to use Smith Rock Way as the alternate route for access to US 97, resulting in economic impacts (to trucking and tourism), recreation (e.g., Smith Rock State Park), and safety along Smith Rock Way.  Smith Rock Way is a narrow County road and was not intended to accommodate the weight and volumes of trucks now using it and 17th Street to reach destinations in Redmond. Also in Terrebonne, truck access to and from US 97 is a safety hazard, as long, slow-moving trucks attempt to turn onto the highway, they often swing across multiple lanes. 
These same sharp curves along the route also pose a challenge to the traveling public. 

Safety Hazard at O'Neil Junction (US 97) 
There is a history of crashes in this area with many resulting in severe injuries. The current intersection allows movements in all directions, US 97 is five lanes wide at this location, and there are large volumes of traffic flowing at high speeds.  Use of this intersection will increase over time as the City of Redmond develops the westside ring road shown on the TSP, connecting to US 97 at Pershall/O’Neil Junction. 

Freight Mobility & Economic Opportunity 
O’Neil Highway is also the primary roadway link to the BNSF/City of Prineville Railway rail yard facility at Prineville Junction.  The City of Prineville is working in parallel on plans to expand this rail yard, targeting phases summarized as follows: 
  • Construct a new inter-modal facility capable of handling both domestic and international containers.  The facility would be built on 12 acres of land owned by COPR.  It will be funded by ConnectOregon III.
  • Construct a state of the art bulk transfer facility consisting of storage tracks, pumps, washouts, conveyors and storage areas. This facility could handle both liquid and dry bulk material.  This facility would require substantial land acquisition and would adjoin City of Prineville Railway land at Prineville Junction.  Funds have yet to be identified for this phase.


City of Prineville Railway is pursuing these plans to provide the three-county (Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook) area of Central Oregon with the necessary multimodal transportation infrastructure to sustain current industries and attract and support new industry.  It will provide a wide-ranging boost for the Central Oregon region’s economic well-being, where creating and sustaining jobs is the primary goal.  Central Oregon is fortunate to have the COPR short line railroad with access to both the BNSF and Union Pacific railways.  This type of setup is desirable from a competitive standpoint and provides the region an excellent opportunity to gain access to these railways and national and international markets. 

Central Oregon jurisdictions have made improvements at Prineville Junction among the highest priorities for a grade-separated crossing. The ranking for future grade-separated crossings was based on a series of considerations including safety, emergency services, traffic congestion, economic opportunities, local jurisdiction priorities, railway company needs, land use and environmental, road classification, cost, and phasing and financing. 
Prineville Junction is a high priority because:
1) it eliminates two multi-line at-grade crossings with O’Neil Highway (safety) 2) it resolves a freight truck length restriction for one of the most important aggregate haul routes in Central Oregon
3) it re-orients the aggregate haul route from O’Neil Highway to the new interchange at the north end of the US 97 Redmond Reroute, replacing an at-grade intersection with a grade-separated interchange making a much safer access to a high-speed rural highway
4) it matches well with the expansion of the BNSF/COPR rail interchange for increased rail and multi-modal freight service. 

The project will also benefit emergency services, reduce delay on the O’Neil Highway, and improve access to both the BNSF and City of Prineville railways.
The O’Neil Highway improvement project will help support safe and efficient freight access to the expanding rail yard from US 97 via the interchange on the north end of Redmond.  This is fitting with the Central Oregon Rail Plan​, which states:  “Focus decision-making and funding priorities (for at-grade crossing improvements) on multi-stakeholder benefits, beyond public safety and roadway traffic congestion, such as: rail freight mobility and industrial business recruitment (rail-served), short and long term issues with freight trucking (e.g., fuel costs, roadway impacts), rail operational needs, etc.” 


Finalize scope of project   winter 2009-10
Begin environmental/county system plan process    summer/fall 2011
Complete environmental/county system planning process   2012
Once the project is funded, the next steps would be to purchase right-of-way, prepare contract documents, put the contract out for bid, and then begin construction. 


The preliminary cost estimate for the total of these road and bridge improvements is approximately $30 million. The project is currently funded for project development only. 

Public comment opportunities

Have a comment? Contact a project team member below for questions, comment or more information.

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Contact information

Phone Email Address 
 Amy Pfeiffer 
 Project Leader, ODOT  541-388-6052 
 Gary Farnsworth   
 Area Manager, ODOT  541-388-6071 
 Jim Bryant 
 Program and Planning Manager, ODOT  541-388-6437 
 Dan Lovelady 
 General Manager, City of  Prineville Railway   541-447-6251