By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

One last drive down bypass memory lane

Forty-four years ago, in 1968, $3 million was going to build a roadway from Highway 99W to I-5 across a new Willamette River bridge at Lambert Bend

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1) I'll never have to go through Dundee again.
2) Almost all of the project will be paid by someone else .... the truly American way.
3) It is only 3.5 miles long.

1) It is only 3.5 miles long.
2) It will be the most expensive ODOT project in Oregon's history.
3) There is still major congestion to get to Portland.
4) It will solve very little for McMinnville that four lanes through Dundee wouldn't have solved.
5) McMinnville will struggle with street maintenance budgets for decades.
6) Project was sold with everyone envisioning the entire project, which most likely never happen.


Too little, too late. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why anybody opposed this years ago, when costs were lower and its impact would have been greater. Now, ehh, 3.5 miles is better than nothing


I guess if money is no object. $85 million per mile is pretty steep. They could have constructed four lanes from McMinnville to Rex Hill for this cost and still had millions left over.


"....when costs were lower and its impact greater."

J. Paul Getty, during an interview on the Mike Douglas Show, said..."A billion dollars just doesn't go as far as it use to."

That was back in 1968 when a freshman in high school could still purchase twenty (20) Hershey Bar's for a buck, that is, if, he..or..she had been so inclined

Back then, the majority of people were much 'thinner' as well, when compared to the average girth today, and depending upon how most had judged distance back in 1968, whether in minutes, probably had something to do with that money not being spent, at that time. That's my best guess, mcmac.

Code Blue

I have been commuting from McMinnville to Portland for more than 12 years to the point I have gone numb from it. Building the Newberg-Dundee bypass is not sufficient. What is needed is a full expressway to I-5. I recall several years ago e-mailing an ODOT supervisor to complain about the delay in construction. He shared with me that he lived in the McMinnville area, and once took a job in Portland, but after several months of experiencing the commute, he said it drove him so crazy he transferred to a job in Salem! He also sent me a set of plans showing a proposed link to I-5 at the Donald-Aurora exit from Dayton, as well as plans for an expressway from the I-5/I-205 interchange straight through to McMinnville. He said they were just ideas that will never be built for variety of reasons. Those are the kinds of "bypasses" we truly need. Call it the Dundee-Newberg-Sherwood-King City-Tigard Bypass!


The Newberg-Dundee Bypass was an orchestrated route by "stakeholders" with a biased interest. There would not be the problem if there would have been four travel lanes through Dundee (both sides of Dundee are four lanes, h-e-l-l-o ). By letting Dundee jam up continually, the jams played into the hands of the biased "stakeholders". The worse it got the more leverage. That is why 99W was let to deteriorate through the Dundee section.

There was a strong feeling that any other route would never allow Newberg or Dundee to have their bypass. We will still have the major problems past Newberg. This is a very expensive solution (doesn't seem to matter how much it costs) for a very small band-aid.

Jeb Bladine

Sad that the 1968 project wasn't pursued. A similar project being pushed by private interests has failed to win support from governmental bodies, particularly Marion County. Opponents argue that it would divide up prime agricultural lands and result in major traffic problems at the I-5 interchange.

Meanwhile, today's band-aid might become tomorrow's lifeline as population and traffic continue to grow. The route around Dundee-Newberg goes to Highway 219 (St. Paul Highway) and a straight shot across existing Willamette River bridge to the McKay Road route to I-5.

That may become the "regional bypass" for several decades.


If we'd spend the money at the front end of any highway project (like the Germans do) our past projects wouldn't be crumbling and in such poor shape today. As a society we never seem to want to look that far into the future.

troy prouty

I still think an express lane would work. I have measured the lanes and I have sat outside and witnessed the flow of traffic. I don't see it any different that just adding a certain lane at certain times running west to east and east to west. Similar to Seattle I-5 express lanes north to south. The only draw back would creating the side streets of Dundee to route to one ot two main exits to the highway, instead of several little streets here and there.

But it might not be totally perfect like a bypass, it would clear up a lot of traffic, cost less to build and save money for many of us at a time of recession that appears will only get worse, despite (what people say about improving) it won't, because the issue hasn't been delt with properly.

Troy Prouty*


Yes, the 1968 solution was considerably more preferable to this Phase I Newberg-Dundee Bypass. This will be a truck filled two lane 3.5 mile highway that will be interesting.

My hope is that they don't put "traffic dampening" effects on highway 99W as was originally proposed. I also hope that the McMinnville street department is flush with money because the council expressed very little concern for McMinnville streets while approving the decision to pay more than both Newberg and Dundee combined. I will be disappointed if they try to pass a levy now for McMinnville streets

troy prouty

posted "Meanwhile, today's band-aid might become tomorrow's lifeline as population and traffic continue to grow"

Well, I think that could be true to some regard, but it also means living within one's ability to supply. Something the U.S, has not done for some time. If so, government today would not struggle so much with the success of the 90's.

Let me use another example of government gone bad. Alaska Viaduct in Seattle. They called for more lanes, the dept of transportation examined it - wanted more lanes with overpass. Special interest got involved, what did the people get? Two less lanes, tunnel and fees and a 10 Billion dollar bill by the time it will be over. The most expensive approach.

When I'm sick - I could go to the doctor and be treated for a price, but if I don't have the money, I need to find an answer without the doctor. That is life and government, CEO's and Companies need to learn it.

Troy Prouty*


There is so much talk about this bypass, as well as the I-5 to 99W Connector Project ( It seems to me that there should be some coordination if there is to be one bypass that ends on the Sherwood side of Rex Hill, while the next starts up just miles down the road on the Newberg side.

Jeb Bladine

Three additional thoughts on this:

1 -- The ODOT website on this project badly needs updating, better organization of content, better maps, etc. It really is a confusing mix of information.

2 -- While ODOT is at it, wouldn't it be nice if someone from the state provided a clear and convincing explanation of why the estimated cost on the full bypass increased 600 percent between 1999 and 2009, while the Portland-area consumer price index rose 600 percent between 1970 and 2012? Legal complications, complex environmental requirements and land values no doubt played a big role, but still .....

3 -- Normally I'd object to McMinnville paying so much of the local share for a project that arguably is more important to Newberg-Dundee -- except for two points:

a) McMinnville's economy is hugely improved by visitors from out-of-town, and existing traffic conditions deter visitors from coming. Plus, McMinnville industries have a greater transportation disadvantage from current conditions than those in Newberg. So, there really is high value in this project for McMinnville.

b) Funding for "local-share" payments comes from about 36% of the "new money" each municipality receives from the increased state gas tax. The county and cities all will receive more money than otherwise would have been the case, even after paying their local share of the bypass project. Since funding for the bypass was a huge element in the gas tax increase plan, it's hard to get too negative about the local municipalities paying that share ... along with $4 million committed by the Tribe.


Great points Jeb about McMinnville's local share. Particularly point b. You are totally correct about the county and cities receiving money that otherwise would not have materialized but for the inclusion of the $192 million in the gas tax increase bill. Senator George had a tremendous amount of leverage in that he could have and would have pushed for a voter initiative if the funding was not included. If the voter initiative had occured, then the gas tax increase was expected to be repealled Hence, no increase in revenues to the county and cities.

I also agree with you regarding ODOT's website. They revamped the website about 6 months ago and I think they made it even worse than it was before.


The problem with the project 44 years ago was location.

They wanted to put in a 1 1/4 mile fill across a flood plain. This was along Green Acre Rd.

Lambert Slough has eroded the bank along Green Acre Rd. The road has been moved away from the Slough. The end of the road has been eliminated by the Willamette River changing course.

I remember watching Kgw tv, when a Yamhill County Commissioner (Bernards?) was in a boat. The video was of him floating over the proposed road, during a flood, using an oar, tapping the ground underneath the water, saying "This is where the road would be".

Backing up the Willamette River would have made the occasional floods worse.

A better place would have been Wheatland Rd, or Zena Rd at the Lincoln Store. Zena Rd already has access to Hwy 99W.

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