Seven Oaks Interchange project nears end as Interstate 5 paving wraps up

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Interstate 5 paving is expected to wrap up later this month around the Seven Oaks interchange (exit 35) north of Central Point. If all goes as planned, the project will be finished before the end of the year.

Prime contractor Legacy Contracting Inc. of Salem, moved the southbound I-5 travel lanes to their permanent configuration in July.

The $31 million Seven Oaks Interchange project constructed a new, wider Blackwell Road overpass; new on- and off-ramps to the I-5 interchange; and two new I-5 bridges over the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad tracks.

The old Blackwell Road overpass was functionally obsolete. The interchange draws higher volumes of traffic, especially freight and aggregate trucks, than might be expected from looking at the interchange’s rural surroundings.

Truck volumes increase northeast of Central Point, where haulers travel to and from White City from the Seven Oaks interchange. Aggregate, concrete and asphalt trucks travel through the interchange daily to access the gravel pits and road building companies located around exit 35.

The reconfigured southbound I-5 off-ramp includes a traffic signal at the end of the ramp and provides more storage capacity for vehicles.

“The old off-ramp couldn’t handle more than a couple cars if they were turning toward White City,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. “The improvements at Seven Oaks will not only make the interchange safer than it was before, but will also accommodate the growing traffic volumes.”

Wet weather last spring delayed the project schedule. Final roadwork was dependent on warmer temperatures and dry weather.

Contractor changes

Legal and contractual problems during construction led to ODOT terminating its contract with prime contractor Ross Bros. and Co. of Brooks, Ore. The Seven Oaks Interchange project was one of a few projects around the state that ODOT allowed the successor company, Legacy Contracting Inc., to complete.

ODOT inspectors were later brought in to oversee the work and ensure contract provisions were followed.

“Seven Oaks has been a difficult project,” said Anderson. “We originally planned for an October 2008 completion date but contractor issues delayed the work. The goal is still to complete the project and bring the interchange up to today’s safety standards and specifications.”

Oregon Transportation Investment Act

The agency’s $1.3 billion OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program is repairing and replacing hundreds of bridges across the state to ensure the unrestricted movement of freight and spur economic growth.

OTIA III is the third Oregon Transportation Investment Act. The $2.46 billion package allocates $1.3 billion to the bridge program and $1.16 billion to fund county and city maintenance projects, local bridge repair and replacement work, and modernization projects statewide.

Oregonians had not seen an investment of this magnitude in highway and bridge construction since the state’s interstate freeway system was built in the 1950s and ’60s.
 
Of the 365 bridges in the program, 65 are currently under construction, and another 199 have been com-pleted and open to traffic. Ninety-three bridges do not require repair or replacement.

Through 2009, the bridge program created or sustained more than 16,000 jobs. Overall, the 10-year bridge program will sustain an annual average of approximately 2,300 jobs.

In 2008, the program spent more than $218 million on construction, design and program management. Of those expenditures, 85 percent went to Oregon firms. Since work started in 2003, businesses and individuals have earned more than $921 million after taxes.

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