Here's to fixing 'fishhook' at south end of bypass project
One look at a map depicting the four-mile first phase of the Newberg-Dundee Bypass instantly reveals the problem.
Your eye inevitably turns to an inelegant, signal-controlled fishhook at the southern terminus on the outskirts of Dundee, serving to shuttle northbound Highway 99W traffic onto the bypass and southbound bypass traffic onto Highway 99W. Once your brain processes this circuitously tortured solution, it inevitably prompts your mouth to emit some sort of doubt-filled utterance.
For $233 million, you’d think we could do better. But “better” apparently requires an additional $37 million, and local interests convinced the Oregon Department of Transportation to make that a top-priority Oregon request for federal funds.
Can we live with a first phase that ends in a fishhook marked by a traffic light? We can, and will, if we have to. But woe to the highway planners should that design simply move the major traffic jam from one Dundee traffic signal to another.
On the bright side, a lot of people with engineering degrees contend the fishhook, while not optimal, is really quite workable. They say it should work for 10 or 15 years, giving us that long to raise enough for a second phase of a project expected to eventually stretch 11 miles. That gives us hope, no matter what Uncle Sam says.
Still, we can easily envision the full bypass turning into a billion-dollar project, and we easily can see that much money failing to materialize. So this might be all we get.
That being the case, we folks lacking advanced training in engineering would rest easier if ODOT landed the $37 million for a more natural, elegant and unimpeded form of ingress and egress in Dundee. We don’t want to spend the next 50 years cursing a new Dundee chokepoint after spending 50 cursing the old one.
To that end, Yamhill County Commissioner Allen Springer, a builder by trade, and Parkway Committee Chair Dave Haugeberg, a lawyer, will be journeying to D.C. later this month wearing their lobbying hats.
We can’t think of a better set of warriors to send east, and we wish them all the best in their quest.
In the meantime, we can expect to see dirt begin kicking up on the long-awaited Newberg-Dundee work any day now, and not a moment too soon. It doesn’t take an engineer to see that even a four-mile stretch with a fishhook beats what we have to endure today.