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Update: ODOT has repaved half of dangerous Hwy 101 shoulder

Posted by on September 6th, 2013 at 8:44 am

ODOT image of fresh pavement on shoulder of Highway 101 south of Florence.
(Photos: ODOT)

In the latest twist to the ongoing saga of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) problematic paving job on Highway 101, a regional manager announced today that they’ve already made significant progress in making it better.

As we first reported last month, ODOT came under fire after a Portland man (who also happens to have over 30 years experience at the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bike program) raised alarms about dangerous paving on the Oregon Coast Bike Route. In order to cut costs on a repaving job south of Florence, ODOT contractors placed a new layer of pavement just a foot or two over the fog line. The new layer of pavement left a ledge smack dab in the middle of the shoulder where people ride bicycles on the popular touring route. After a bit of digging, we learned via ODOT Region 2 Manager Sonny Chickering that this repaving job was done in 2011 after a new policy went into place outlawing the practice. That new policy went into place specifically as a bike safety measure.

This morning, Chickering offered another update via email to make good on his promise to fix the situation after the “regrettable” oversight.

Here’s the salient excerpt from Chickering’s email:

“I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress regarding the shoulder paving issue on US 101 in Lane County. [ODOT District 5 Manager David]Warren has rapidly assembled a crew composed of this Region’s most skilled employees and equipment, supplemented with machinery and…and in a single day [September 4th] of construction, they were able to repave about half of the shoulder identified as nonconforming.”

Chickering added that they should be able to complete the rest of the shoulder paving work in a single day. Unfortunately, the weather has been a bit wet on the coast so he said they hope to get it finished by September 13th.

It’s nice to see such quick and capable action on Highway 101; but as we pointed out last month, this problematic paving practice has occurred on state highways throughout Oregon. We hope Chickering’s story spreads around the agency so these shoulders can all be brought up to current paving standards.

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Granpa
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Granpa

This is good news. Thank you to ODOT for being responsive and doing the right thing.

Terry D
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Terry D

Sometimes you just have to light a little fire around an issue. Good reporting, and good work everyone putting pressure on ODOT…hopefully, they will learn from this.

'Hen
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'Hen

Good for you, Mr. Jeff Smith, for getting this all going. And to the rest for chiming in. Always great to see gov’t respond responsibly; now to just get them to do the right thing the first time around. Would be interesting to get a financial work-up on what this ‘mistake’ cost all of us.

LoveDoctor
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LoveDoctor

We like to bitch and complain about ODOT/PBOT/LEOs etc. (and mostly rightly so), but this does show that state agencies can respond to the needs of the non-majority users (the almightly automobile). Continued diligence and vocal uproars will still be needed, but let’s applaud those involved on both sides for deeds done right.

Gerik
Guest

My hat is off to Jeff Smith. Bravo sir!

LoveDoctor
Guest
LoveDoctor

Anyone know how much of 101 is getting re-treated with this specific project? Last Summer I rode from just South of Tillamook down to Coos Bay, and a significant portion of the shoulder had the dreaded ledge, not just the area around Florence. I’d love to do more trips down the coast (and spend my money along the way), but the road conditions damped my enthusiasm.

Burk
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Burk

Wow, good job everyone. Really surprised how quick this issue got resolved. That shoulder pavement looks dreamy, is there anyway to just keep these guys going?

9watts
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9watts

Great photo. But curiously the shoulder (ahead of the asphalt spreader) doesn’t look half bad. 🙂

Florida
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Florida

Three cheers to everyone who made this happen! It’s always nice to see a happy ending.

q`Tzal
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q`Tzal

Now now, don’t say that. We don’t want to encourage ground level employees to make value judgments about what does and does not require repair to state mandated standards.

There’s a time and place for allowing employees to innovate, skirt the rules and save money. When it comes to safety on our public roads: follow the rules like a mindless drone, we pay civil servants enough to get at least that.

Steve B.
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Steve B.

Nice work, ODOT!

J_R
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J_R

The basic problem is that the federal gas tax has been frozen at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. The Oregon gas tax was 24 cents per gallon in 1993 and was finally raised to 30 cents per gallon in 2011.

During that same interval (1993 to 2013) the construction cost index for roads, highways, etc. has risen just about 70 percent. That’s why ODOT is scrimping on everything. They have to.

Maybe there’s been a tiny reduction in gas tax revenues due to the higher mileage of some vehicles, but remember the Ford F150 is still the biggest seller in the vehicle fleet year after year. Any loss due to improved fuel economy is dwarfed by the loss due to construction cost increases. Keep in mind that asphalt and gasoline come from the same source.

Let your legislators know at every opportunity that you support raising the gas tax or tying it to inflation. Remember in 20 years the federal tax has increased by 0; the Oregon tax has increased by 25 percent; and construction costs have increased by 70 percent.

Adam
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Adam

Very happy to see ODOT move so fast on this!

Granpa
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Granpa

q`Tzal
Now now, don’t say that. We don’t want to encourage ground level employees to make value judgments about what does and does not require repair to state mandated standards.
There’s a time and place for allowing employees to innovate, skirt the rules and save money. When it comes to safety on our public roads: follow the rules like a mindless drone, we pay civil servants enough to get at least that.
Recommended 1

I don’t understand the comment. Grinding removes surface irregularities and leaves a rough surface of pavement to which new pavement adheres strongly. Grinding is not the artistic interpretation of construction directives. It is the best, most permanent method of repaving, and it is also the most environmentally friendly (oxymoron?) because the depth of work is limited and the grindings can be reused in new pavement. I may be a cranky old bastard, but I think we agree that bicyclists deserve first quality work.

Nathan Broom
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Nathan Broom

I’m impressed by ODOT’s response. Thanks to all involved. Sadly, much of the eastbound Don Stathos bikeway between Medford and Jacksonville has a seam (not a ledge) down the middle–since about 2010. Not as highly traveled as 101, perhaps, but a key symbolic and historic route for our state.

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

Kudos to ODOT for owning up to the problem and fixing it. Now, how do we get the person who made this decision to talk to the person who made the Barbur decision?

Ed
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Ed

Where can I send the thank-you cards?

Ted Buehler
Guest

” After a bit of digging, we learned via ODOT Region 2 Manager Sonny Chickering that this repaving job was done in 2011 after a new policy went into”

It doesn’t take too much digging to find out that the policy wasn’t exactly new. Chickering’s story doesn’t hold water.

“B.3. PAVEMENT OVERLAYS
“Pavement overlays are good opportunities to
improve conditions for cyclists if done
carefully: a ridge should not be left in the
area where cyclists ride (this occurs where
an overlay extends part-way into a shoulder
bikeway or bike lane). Overlay projects offer
opportunities to widen the roadway, or to
restripe the roadway with bike lanes”

“Recommendations
“• Extend the overlay over the entire roadway
surface to avoid leaving an abrupt edge;”
and about 6 more bullets with a lot of detail.

1995 Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/or_bicycle_ped_plan.pdf p. 173

9watts
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9watts

9watts
“Would be interesting to get a financial work-up on what this ‘mistake’ cost all of us.”
My thought exactly.
I think it would be instructive for everyone, those who thought the original repaving was fiscally responsible, those who refuse to consider raising gas taxes, those who think bikes don’t pay their fair share, those who looked the other way when it came to the August, 2011 change in rules governing this bit of infrastructure, etc.
Recommended 2

still curious who paid to fix the ‘mistake’?