LA GRANDE, Oregon – Construction has one lane blocked on Interstate 84 westbound from the top of Cabbage Hill all the way to milepost 217 near Pendleton. Motorists complain that they drive for miles before they see any work being done. Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Strandberg says the lengthy zone is due to the steep grade and numerous curves.
“We have cars and trucks trying to pass each other and get back into the right lane before that lane closes, and it’s just a recipe for disaster,” he said of the scenario if the lane closure was shortened.
Crews are installing electrical conduit to the top of the hill to make numerous safety improvements to the snow zone. That will include weather sensors, message boards, and cameras. Strandberg did point out that as the electrical line work moves up the hill, the construction zone will become shorter. Until then, he urges patience.
“It’s going to frustrate folks and have them complaining about how ODOT doesn’t know how to set up traffic control, but we are doing all this to keep you safe out on the road and keep our construction crew safe,” Strandberg said.
ODOT estimates the conduit will be laid by late summer. The entire snow zone improvement project won’t be complete until 2020.