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ODOT still studying Wickiup Junction overpass as Hwy. 97 shuts down for half-day of BNSF crossing repairs

(Update: Adding video, comment from ODOT)

ODOT study underway may revive railroad overpass

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- There were some unhappy drivers between Bend and La Pine Monday morning.

BNSF Railway had to make a repair to the tracks at wickiup junction, closing Highway 97 for about five hours.

Monday morning, just about everyone had to turn off the highway just north of La Pine.

Oregon Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said traffic was being detoured onto Burgess, Huntington and State Rec roads.

Late Monday morning, traffic was building up on the detour, especially going north on Huntington.

A BNSF spokesperson told NewsChannel 21 a rail at the crossing at Wickiup junction needed to be replaced due to the wear and tear from eight to 12 trains a day passing over the tracks.

“Since this is the only railroad crossing of U.S. 97 that's not separated with an overpass, (a closure like this) doesn't happen very often,” Davey said.

Repairs were finished and the road was reopened around noon, but just south of the crossing sits the once true solution to Monday’s issue.

ODOT Central Oregon Area Manager Bob Townsend told NewsChannel 21 on Monday, “(Drivers) see our construction efforts at an overpass.”

Those efforts were halted in 2017, when Townsend said unforeseen soft soil caused issues and halted construction of the new overcrossing.

"Right now, we're in a five-year geotechnical analysis, feasibility report process," he said.

That means they're trying to determine if there's a technique that can be used to complete the bridge, without further issues.

“The project we're going to identify is going to have a hefty price tag, to manage some of the subsurface geotechnical issues that we face," Townsend said.

It's part of an ongoing Wickiup refinement plan, aimed at improving safety in the area.

“It's still our goal to get rid of the last railroad at-grade crossing on Highway 97," Townsend said.

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.

Comments

15 Comments

        1. You didn’t show up til 11:30 and the Hwy was already open…Hwy wasn’t closed until 8am… repairs were completed by 11:15… hence the reason you don’t have any video of anyone workin… again repairs were made In Just over 3hrs… I think we need to get twitter to fact check you guys!

  1. It’s a good thing they completed the task during the morning rush hour. It could have been bad had they done it at night when no one is on the road….

  2. Oh, leave it to the doomed overpass to bring all the Boomers out. Like flies to poo, you guys just can’t accept that the geology here is crazy, and that $ got spent and lost. Not even that much. Just a lot for you simple folk.

    1. A lot according to Boomers? Guess you’re not aware our gen has stockpiled a never seen before record of $35,000,000,000,000 in wealth. For the simple minded gens that’s an average net worth of $1.2 mil. The next closest gen is millennial’s who’s net worth of $100k, ouch!

    2. The amount wasted on that overpass was $12-$15 million. Not that much? Really? Maybe you can fund the next ODOT project then.

  3. I would be interested in what happened to the employees that first designed this bridge and screwed it up, were they fired, transferred, or promoted with a bonus?

  4. Project Manager was promoted to Portland; nothing happened to the Region Manager. They had a few uncomfortable moments before the Oregon Transportation Commission and then it was business as usual.

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