LA PINE, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation started removing 25 massive beams, Monday, that were supposed to support a new overcrossing at Wickiup Junction. Work on the project stalled in May of 2017, when engineers discovered sediment from an ancient lake created an unstable base for the span.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy says the project was designed to take traffic over the railroad tracks, in an effort to improve safety for drivers on Highway 97. "The first part of that was going to be the overcrossing, which now, because of the sediment, we can’t do that. So, we and the city are still moving forward with developing ideas, concepts and plans that will make that intersection more safe. And that has been our objective, remains our object and it is our objective moving forward."
The state transportation Commission voted to permanently halt construction, a year ago. Murphy says deconstructing the project isn't easy, "What presents a real logistics problem is that it is over a railroad track. And so, the railroad has to work with us, we have to work with the railroad, we have to work with the city of La Pine; I mean, everybody has to be on the same page, here. And, we’ve come up with a plan to remove the beams so they no longer represent an incomplete project." The beams were custom made, so they can’t be reused on another project, "They’ll be broken down into their respective components – concrete and steel. And, we’ll find uses for the steel and for the concrete; you can use concrete for fill in some places" Murphy tells KBND News, "And then the steel, we’ll look at and see if it can be recycled."
ODOT spent about $10 million of the $13 million slated for the project, before discovering the overcrossing couldn't be built.