Possible projects top $35 million; stalled rail overcrossing still seen as long-term solution
LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Highway planners with the Oregon Department of Transportation, the city of La Pine and Deschutes County want to improve conditions for drivers, travelers, big rigs and everyone who walks or rolls along U.S. Highway 97 at Wickiup Junction, north of La Pine.
Highway 97 is central to life in area, but it’s challenging to safely cross the highway, ODOT said in Monday's announcement of a draft "refinement plan" and online site for its review.
ODOT said it reached out to the public in 2020 and heard many ideas for improvements. The feedback it gathered, along with a technical highway analysis, helped to create a draft plan to make the area safer and easier to navigate.
The plan focuses in detail on the intersections within the Wickiup Junction area for safe access to and from Highway 97, particularly at the at-grade crossing of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line.
The plan, called a Refinement Plan, is now available for public review and comment at a virtual open house at www.wickiuprefinementplan.com.
Visitors to the website can review the plan and use an interactive map to see the proposed improvements and provide feedback on the options. ODOT encourages people to comment on the plan prior to its adoption by the La Pine City Council, due to occur later this spring.
The online open house runs through April 16.
The draft plan's list of key projects, totaling $35 million, includes a realignment of Burgess Road and intersection changes, as well as new north-south and east-west collectors, a multi-use path and other changes.
Longer-term, ODOT noted that soil conditions halted construction of a Highway 97 railroad overcrossing in 2017, but that "ultimately, completion of this overcrossing represents the long-term vision for US 97 in the Wickiup area."
Project Background — On Video
Click on this overview video to see why the Wickiup Junction project is needed and what alternatives are being explored by ODOT and the City of La Pine.