BEND, OR -- Oregon has received federal highway money to make seismic upgrades to Highway 97. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, tells KBND News, "It’s $35 million that came along with the new FAST Act - it’s the big bill that passed through Congress. Central Oregon is ground zero for when the ‘big one’ hits the coast and I-5 goes ‘south.’ So, what we have to do is be ready."
Murphy explains, "There’s some money for some bridges up by The Dalles, Biggs area, and then there is some paving that needs to be done to strengthen the roadway here on Highway 97, and then in addition to that, over on Highway 58."
He says Highway 97 is especially important because of its proximity to Roberts Field. "The big game plan is that when stuff happens we have to be ready at the Redmond Airport to start moving supplies, people, whatever, to other parts of the state." And, Murphy acknowledges that if a large-scale earthquake causes I-5 to fail, Highway 97 would become the main north-south route in Oregon.
Murphy believes it'll be another year or two before work begins on those seismic upgrades.