Special Report: Rebuilding Beltline

"We're looking forward to really fixing this highway out here. We know that it's in really bad shape," said Steve Templin, Project Manager with ODOT.

Posted: May. 1, 2018 7:40 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Beltline is one of the most congested highways in western Oregon. It was designed for 1960's travel, not built for the tens of thousands of commuters that use it every day.

Starting this month, you'll see crews working to make your commute smoother.

"We're kicking off our first year of three or four years of pretty intense construction," said Steve Templin, Project Manager with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT has several projects planned for state highways in the Eugene area this summer.

"We're looking forward to really fixing this highway out here. We know that it's in really bad shape," said Templin.

It's also going to be a busy few months for crews working on city and county roads.

"The City of Eugene anticipates that we're going to have another busy construction summer. We've been doing an extensive amount of coordination to make sure people within the community can still travel and be safe," said Katie Marwitz, Project Manager with the City of Eugene.

Crews in Eugene, Lane County and ODOT have been coordinating their plans for months to make sure their projects don't overlap.

"Our work on Crow Road we believe will conclude in large part before some of ODOT's work on 126 begins so we can make sure we're providing as much as possible viable alternative routes," said Devon Ashbridge, Spokesperson with Lane County.

Not only do those detours help people get to work or home, they also help first responders save lives.

"Having knowledge ahead of time is essential," said Battalion Chief Markus Lay, with Eugene Springfield Fire.

Lay said the department prides themselves on their quick response times. They're in constant communication with construction crews, so they know where the closures and delays are before leaving the station.

"We're constantly trying to find every way we can to get the help there faster. Especially in the summer time, when road construction is happening. It’s part of our overall plan...something we think about all the time is access into neighborhoods." said Lay.

He said they pay close attention to the Beltline, because it's the main route their ambulances use to take patients to the hospital.

"Also, to get from one response area to another when we have a larger call and we're drawing resources from across town. Beltline is one of our primary routes for getting crews there," said Lay.

The first project you'll see this summer is the Beltline Paving Project. Crews will be paving the highway from Roosevelt Boulevard to Coburg Road.

"Those of you who travel that on a regular basis know it's in pretty poor shape," said Templin.

For the 55,000 to 90,000 drivers who take that route each day, this will be a welcome change. Templin said they'll be doing some repairs before the paving starts and said crews will do all the work at night.

Here's a list of additional projects ODOT will be starting this summer:

-Crews will be patching the road between west 11th and Roosevelt Boulevard
- On Highway 126, there will be some paving and bridge maintenance between Cornerstone and Terry Street
- On I-105, four bridges will undergo seismic upgrades.

"The overall goal of everything we're doing is safety and mobility," said Angela Beers Seydel, Spokesperson with ODOT.

She said the key to a smooth, is ODOT's slogan: "Know Before You Go!" They're asking drivers to go onto TripCheck to check for detours and delays.

ODOT has some additional big plans for the Beltline over the next few years, click here to see future projects.

Something that both firefighters and the project managers really emphasized, was slowing down when you see work crews.

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