Driving Highway 82 from Imbler to Wallowa Lake State Park during road construction projects can be a little bit challenging and sometimes tests the patience of even the most serene of motorists. There are five work sites along the 60-mile route during what Oregon Department of Transportation is calling one of their busiest construction seasons across the state.

Projects include a major downtown enhancement through Imbler, pavement resurfacing, several minor road realignments, bridge upgrades and replacement, and a monumental chip seal along the entire stretch.

Workers have completed the chip seal operation and are quickly approaching the completion of the road striping. ODOT expects the striping work to be completed sometime this week and advises that traffic delays around the striping crew should be minimal.

Tidewater Construction of John Day is responsible for the chip seal and is finishing up the striping work for a bid amount of $2.8 million.

Another project scheduled for completion this year is the highway realignment project at the Minam River viaduct near milepost 31. Alignment is scheduled to begin in mid September, and should be completed by the end of October, according to Tom Strandberg, ODOT public information officer. JAL Construction from Bend is responsible for the realignment work after bidding $3.875 million.

Motorists can expect continued traffic delays occurring around the clock and single lane traffic directed through the Minam viaduct area and ODOT asks that motorists continue to watch for flaggers and to use caution when driving through the work zone.

"We understand traffic impacts can be frustrating, but please be patient and plan some extra travel time," said Strandberg.

The temporary traffic lights near the viaduct will be removed and the highway restored to two lanes by Oct. 25. The route will then remain at two lanes through the winter with construction and realignment work scheduled to resume next spring.

ODOT engineers decided against replacing the bridge over Minam River and instead planned the highway realignment. Strandberg said the decision saves the tax-payer over $300,000 on bridge construction and on long-term maintenance costs.

There is no funding currently available for realignment of the 25-mile per hour hairpin curve at milepost 30. "We now have preliminary design information for a future curve improvement project that could be constructed when transportation dollars become available," according to ODOT bridge manager Mark Hanson.

Traffic delays on Imbler's main road should lessen during the sidewalk construction phase of the downtown enhancement project. Once sidewalk work is completed, crews will move back to the roadway to apply a final layer of asphalt on Imbler's main thoroughfare.

Downtown improvements will include new sidewalks and curbs, pavement resurfacing and a new storm drainage system. ODOT expects the project to be completed by the end of October with local contractor Mike Becker Construction handling the project for a bid amount of $1.96 million.

Indian Creek Bridge, just south of Elgin, will be replaced over the next few years. The bridge replacement project is scheduled over several years to allow for traffic flow, according to Strandberg.

Motorists can expect the first portion of the project to be completed sometime in 2011 with the completion of one new lane. Single lane traffic will then be shifted to the new bridge structure during 2012 while the old structure is being removed and the remaining section of the new bridge put in its place.

The new bridge will expand to three traffic lanes and should be completed before the end of 2012. The bridge replacement work was awarded to D.L. Edmondson, Inc. from Summerville for a little over $4.3 million.

Funding for the projects comes from the Oregon Transportation Act and was authorized through 2003 legislature. The legislation put aside $3 billion for road projects throughout the state of Oregon. There are over 50 road construction and improvement sites across the state and five different sites on Hwy. 82.

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