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Questions linger as Wickiup Junction project is halted


ODOT’S Wickiup Junction rail overcrossing project has been stopped, and the fallout from that decision is prompting a lot of questions.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is looking at making sure it moves forward in the safest way possible.

The department told La Pine city councilors and residents late Monday it will begin by removing the beams already in place for the project and then decide how much more of the material can be salvaged.

Bob Bryant, the ODOT Region 4 manager, said the department is looking at making an informed decision on to what to do next.

“The big decision that we have to make and the recommendation that we are formulating is how much of the remaining structure needs to be dismantled as well,” Bryant said Tuesday.

The La Pine Chamber of Commerce is discouraged by the decision, according to Executive Assistant Teri Myers.

She said the roadway once brought the promise of better business and safety.

Now, people living in the city are wondering what’s next — and who will pay for the project.

“We think that we shouldn’t be on the hook for the change either.” Myers said. “So I know that was a topic of conversation immediately following City Hall’s conversation last night. So is ODOT and that engineer that did the testing going to pick up the tab or is this going to translate down to the rest of us?”

La Pine Mayor Dennis Scott said he’s disappointed in the decision, but is trying to keep a positive outlook.

He said now the city and ODOT will need to re-evaluate how best to make sure the highway is safe.

“This is the main freight corridor to the center of Central Oregon,” Scott said. “So it’s not just the local people, it’s the tourists, its the freight. We have to put all that in effect, and for those trucks to come out of that truck stop up there, it’s dangerous.”

Scott said he wants to see a decision made that will benefit everyone that uses the road.

He said even with this setback, he is hopeful that city will be able to grow in a sustainable fashion.

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