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Rough road: ODOT lowering Hwy. 26 speed limit near Warm Springs until it’s paved — and it may happen elsewhere

Drivers on Hwy. 26 near Warm Springs are being warned of a reduced speed limit until the road full of ruts, potholes can be repaved next year
Drivers on Hwy. 26 near Warm Springs are being warned of a reduced speed limit until the road full of ruts, potholes can be repaved next year

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Years of wear and tear have taken their toll on U.S. Highway 26 between Highway 216 and the Warm Springs River, resulting in a highway scattered with many ruts and potholes. An upcoming project in 2024 will repave the 15-mile stretch of highway, but temporary changes -- as in a slower speed -- are coming much sooner. 

And the agency's funding squeeze means it may happen elsewhere as well, an ODOT spokeswoman says.

A temporary speed reduction will be going into effect for this area starting on Friday "and will last until we can improve the condition of the pavement," ODOT Region 4 Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said Tuesday.

The reduction, from 55 mph down to 45 mph, will give people more time and opportunity to navigate this rough stretch of highway, according to a Davey's news release, which continues below.

The speed reduction will also slow traffic and make the work zones safer for our crews while they work on temporary pothole and rut patches that will start this summer and last throughout the year. A reduction of 10 mph in this bumpy area is safer for everyone and will only add an extra four minutes to your drive. 

"With our budget already stretched thin, we could see more temporary fixes in the future," Davey said. "U.S. 26 will receive federal funding next year, but many of our lower-volume roads may not. Our maintenance budgets aren’t built to repave roads; they are built to patch roads and do small repairs."

"A reduced maintenance budget and federal dollars not going as far means we will see a reduced level of service on many of our roads," she added. "We will need to use tools such as speed reductions to help navigate safety concerns and lessen impacts to all users."

Portable message boards will warn drivers to slow down, and 45 mph speed signs will be installed throughout the area on Friday.  

If you plan to travel this stretch of highway, ODOT advises you to "give yourself some extra time to make the journey. Be prepared for a few bumps in the road and watch out for our crews who will be working throughout the year in this area. is a great resource for construction delays."

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson County

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