It’s been a long road and a long time in coming, but the end is near for the construction of the Highway 20/Pioneer Mountain Loop bypass. It’ll shave off considerable time traveling between Newport and the valley. But these final phases of the project will entail some additional pain and inconvenience for the motoring public.
ODOT’s Angela Beers-Seydel says they’re still in the information gathering stage to determine exactly how the lead contractor will finish the project and then button it up so the motoring public can use it. There is a lot of mountain blasting and more earthwork to do between now and the end of October, the exact details of which are still not completely nailed down. In the meantime Beers-Seidel says ODOT will be talking with the Newport area business community either one-on-one or in groups as decision time draws near. She said that ODOT will do everything in its power to get the Highway 20 project done as quickly as possible with the least harmful impacts on the coast’s tourism industry. She says there will be plenty of signage directing motorists to the coast using alternate routes. She also adds that Pac-West Ambulances will still be able to get through regardless of the work going on with only a few minor exceptions – and then only for short delays. She said ODOT is well aware that there is excellent air ambulance service between the coast and trauma centers in the Willamette Valley and the Portland metro.
Beers-Seydel says the picture on the closures should firm up over the next couple of months. But suffice it to say, she says, the closures will begin June 1st and end when the project’s complete in October. Some closures will be at night for a number of hours while others will be during the day for a number of hours, various days of the week. She says the closures will be announced well in advance so that travelers can adjust – like using Highway 18 and Highway 34 as temporary alternates. Neither should add more than an hour’s travel time to and from the Valley – especially for Newport destinations. It’ll be business as usual for those going to and from the Valley from Lincoln City and Waldport.
Again, Beers-Seidel says exact closure days, nights and times will be firmed up as things progress toward the completion of the project. They will be on the ODOT project website, will be advertised on TripCheck.com, in the local news media, including online with NewsLincolnCounty.com, on radio and TV broadcast from the Valley. Again, it’s all supposed to be wrapped up by the end of October.
The project had been on the drawing boards for years because of Highway 20’s dangerous curves between Eddyville and Toledo. When completed, commute times between Newport and the Valley will be trimmed by anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic and your personal driving habits.