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New Stretch Of Oregon Highway Opens A Decade After Ground Was Broken

A new section of U.S. Highway 20 is now open near Eddyville, Oregon.
Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
A new section of U.S. Highway 20 is now open near Eddyville, Oregon.

After more than a decade of construction, a section of U.S. Highway 20 in Oregon's Coast Range is now open to traffic. But work isn't done on the project yet.

When the Oregon Department of Transportation broke ground on the Highway 20 project west of Corvallis, George W. Bush was still president. The goal was to build a five mile section of new road to bypass a 10 mile stretch of windy, narrow road that slowed drivers heading from the Willamette Valley to Newport on the Oregon coast.

The location's steep hillsides and deep ravines proved too much of a challenge for the first contractor. The project dragged on more than 10 years. It also came in $220 million over its initial budget.

But even with the new section finally open, nighttime closures continue the rest of the month. And ODOT says the finishing touches won't be done until next summer.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.