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JTA Home > Region 2 JTA Home > US101/OR6 Traffic Improvement Project

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Why is this project needed?

Tillamook’s current safety and congestion problems will only become worse as traffic volumes are projected to increase by 60% over the next 20 years. The streets that U.S. 101 and OR 6 use were never designed to carry the kind of large trucks and the volume of traffic that moves through town now. If improvements are not made:

  • Intersection backups will happen more frequently and last for longer durations
  • Narrow streets that were never designed to serve highway traffic will be even further stressed
  • Tourists and infrequent users will continue to be confused, especially by the intersections of U.S. 101 and OR 6

What does this project do?

This project will improve traffic operations and safety by widening downtown lanes on Main and Pacific Avenues and providing new crosswalks at select locations. Traffic signal upgrades are planned for major intersections and left turn lanes will be added to decrease wait time and through traffic congestion. Pacific Avenue will be extended north past 1st Street to connect with a new Hoquarton Bridge on U.S. 101. On-street parking will be maintained by narrowing sidewalks by about two feet on both sides. (Read more.)

How are the City of Tillamook and ODOT working together on this project?

The City and ODOT coordinated closely during the design phase. They are collaborating to jointly fund renovations to Tillamook streetscapes as part of the project design and construction. Among the improvements are:

  • A new bike and pedestrian trail along the unused Port of Tillamook Railroad line from Hoquarton Park to Goodspeed Park
  • A plaza area on 2nd Street between Main and Pacific Avenues to be used for festivals and a community gathering place
  • Preparation of a Welcome to Tillamook site for future signage and other amenities where U.S. 101 separates into Main and Pacific Avenues just north of OR 6
  • Building a new plaza area in front of the Tillamook Museum
  • Directional signage and striped bike lanes to move bicyclists through downtown
  • Benches and bike racks on some downtown sidewalks
  • Concrete crosswalk treatments on local streets at intersections with U.S. 101
  • Decorative light poles
  • Tree planting and replacement along Pacific, on U.S. 101 north of OR 6, and in Hoquarton Park

What’s happening with the Hoquarton Bridge and Park area?

The new U.S. 101 Hoquarton Bridge will have four lanes and will be about three feet higher than the current bridge. There will be sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the highway. Decorative treatments to the bridge railings and pylons along with step-out viewing platforms will add to the bridge’s appeal. Trees will be planted within the sidewalks along U.S. 101 leading to the bridge to the north of OR 6.

Hoquarton Park will have improved one-way drive through traffic entrance and exit access. Other upgrades to the park include:

  • A new connection to the existing pathway trail
  • Expanded parking
  • A cul-de-sac turnaround and connection to adjoining private parcels

Will this project address highway flooding?

This project is not intended to mitigate flooding during high water events. Addressing flooding in this one area would not improve travel conditions because the connecting roads outside of the project area would still be affected by high water. Additional flood mitigation would also add substantially to the project cost and would incur private property impacts because of the changes to the roadway grade.

How will this project benefit the City of Tillamook and downtown business?

The traffic and streetscape improvements described above will enhance Tillamook’s appeal for community members and visitors alike. Safer crosswalks, smoother traffic movement and the refreshed, inviting look of sidewalks will attract even more interest in being downtown.

Why is the width of the sidewalks downtown being reduced?

In some areas the width of sidewalks will be reduced in order to increase the size of U.S. 101 travel lanes to meet the current ODOT standard of twelve feet. Currently the travel lanes in downtown Tillamook are only ten feet wide and there have been a relatively high number of low-speed crashes in downtown Tillamook that can be attributed to the narrow lanes. These accidents tend to involve large trucks and recreational vehicles side-swiping parked cars. Some traffic congestion in downtown can also be attributed to the sub-standard lanes.

The environmental study phase of the project explored the tradeoffs associated with narrowing sidewalks in order to widen travel lanes. Downtown Tillamook is considered a Special Transportation Area because the highway goes through compact urban development. As such, ODOT guidelines prioritize local access needs over highway mobility. However, public feedback received during the environmental study indicated that it would be preferable to narrow the sidewalks and widen the travel lanes in order to improve the flow of traffic and reduce the number of vehicle conflicts. This trade-off was considered acceptable with regards to the STA guidelines because the existing 12-foot sidewalks are two feet wider than the minimum standard.

How much does this cost?

The project is being funded with $28.8 million from the 2009 Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act, $1.5 million from other state funding sources, and $5.8 million in Federal funding. Learn more about the JTA.

Construction Questions

When will construction be complete?

Construction is planned to be complete in the fall of 2018 and will occur in stages to minimize impacts to traffic and businesses. Construction will pause during the summer to minimize traffic impediments during the tourist season.

Will downtown Tillamook be accessible for visitors and through-travelers during construction?

Maintaining access and mobility in downtown Tillamook during construction is a key project goal. Although there will be some unavoidable delays and lane closures, as well as sidewalk and parking impacts, there will always be access to downtown during construction. No detours off of U.S. 101 are planned. Construction will be put on hold during the summer months to further minimize impacts during the higher traffic volume tourist season. ODOT will continue to work with the City and business operators to minimize these temporary inconveniences.

How will construction impact downtown property owners?

The team has been working closely with property owners where the project results in changes to existing properties, including several buildings that will need to be removed to allow for the extension of Pacific Avenue to the north. In keeping with federal law, ODOT follows a well-defined right-of-way acquisition process that describes what the state must do in order to purchase private property for public use. (Learn more about the property acquisition process.) ODOT is also working closely with property owners that have existing building improvements such as basements, signs, and awnings that will be impacted by the downtown improvements.

What resources are available for businesses in downtown Tillamook during construction?

The City of Tillamook has contracted with the Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce to provide information about project activities and their impacts to downtown businesses and traffic. For more information, or to sign up for regular updates through the Chamber of Commerce's email list, contact Jeannell Wyntergreen at hwyproject@tillamookchamber.org.

Will there be nearby staging areas and truck/haul routes that people should be aware of?

Because each individual contractor has their own unique equipment needs, they may make some arrangement with a nearby property owner.  Those arrangements must have the approval of ODOT to ensure that public safety and environmental regulations are met.  For this project, the contractor will be able to use the area south of Hoquarton Slough and east of U.S. 101 early on as a staging area.

Will there be special construction worker parking?

It will be left up to the contractor to assure that workers are obeying all parking rules. ODOT is not planning to designate a special construction worker parking area.

Will bike or pedestrian detours be necessary at any stage of the project?

Yes. There will be periods of construction when sidewalks are closed downtown and pedestrians are detoured.  These closures are planned to be limited to one side of the street at a time and on one block at a time.  This will minimize the out of direction travel for pedestrians.

Are there any special considerations being made for emergency vehicles?

Yes. ODOT requires construction contractors to provide immediate passage for all emergency vehicles at all times.

What will happen to the Shell gas station at the intersection of OR 6 and U.S. 101?

The Shell Station property was not needed for the project and will remain at its current location.

Is there going to be a lot of noise, mess, or vibrations at specific phases of the project?

During construction, there is always a potential for unwanted noise and mess.  The contractor will be required to obey laws related to noise and trash.  The design team is investigating the need to impose special requirements on the contractor related to vibrations, especially near some of the buildings in the downtown area.  There is special equipment that may be specified for street construction and bridge construction operations that would limit the vibrations.

Are there any incentives for the contractor to finish the work early?

Although ODOT sometimes offers incentives to construction contractors for early completion, that approach is typically reserved for emergency projects and will not apply here.

Does the construction schedule allow for weather-related delays?

Yes. The construction schedule accounts for a number of constraints that impact a contractor’s ability to work. This includes weather, relocation of overhead and underground utilities that must be performed by the utility owner (and not the construction contractor), summer shutdowns to accommodate local businesses, and Hoquarton Slough permitted in-water-work periods.

Will there be access to Hoquarton Park during construction?

There will be no access to the park via U.S. 101 during the construction of the new Hoquarton Bridge and park amenities. This may mean up to a year closure.

Will the U.S. 101 bridge ever be completely closed to traffic?

No. The bridge is being built in two stages with one side being completed in each stage. In Stage 1 the current bridge will be used to allow a traffic lane in each direction. In Stage 2, the newly constructed portion of the bridge will allow for one lane of traffic in each direction. This approach minimizes travel impacts, although some short closures may be needed to accommodate construction activities.

Contamination Questions

Why is ODOT addressing the contaminated soil and groundwater found on the Tillamook Project? 

ODOT must address the contamination to protect the health and safety of construction workers working next to the contamination, and the general public. ODOT is also complying with conditions in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit which regulates what we can discharge during construction.

The concentrations of soil and groundwater contamination were not high enough to trigger the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) clean up rules but they were high enough to trigger waste management rules which require the safe removal and treatment of the contaminated soil and groundwater

Where is the contamination located?

Most of the contamination is located along Hoquarton Slough in the northeast section of the project.  As part of the project, ODOT had to acquire several properties along the Slough which have seen fairly continuous industrial and commercial use for better than 120 years.  To date, impacts have only been encountered on the south side of Hoquarton Slough where an old lumber/shake mill, gas stations, vehicle and boat repair, and a laundromat existed in the past, in or adjacent to the current project limits.

As part of ODOT’s project development, several preliminary site investigations (test holes) were performed to identify areas where past land uses have impacted soil and groundwater within the project limits.  ODOT suspected that there might be contamination issues, but did not expect the extent and the quantity of contamination that has impacted the project.   

How is ODOT addressing the contamination?

The investigative data gathered during project development along with discoveries during construction excavations has been used to develop a waste management approach. A company that specializes in treatment of contaminated water has provided a treatment system approved by the DEQ.  At the construction site, two 20,000 gallon tanks are used to pump out the contaminated water, filter and treat it and discharge it back in to the slough.  The system only treats the water.  It is not designed to clean up the site.

ODOT’s contractor handles contaminated soil according to special provisions within the project contract.  This special provision describes the process of how the contractor should handle, manage and dispose of the contaminated soil.  The contaminated soil is taken to a DEQ permitted landfill disposal site.

What are the contaminants being encountered in the groundwater?

A wide range of contaminants exist within ODOT’s project limits. All of the petroleum hydrocarbon ranges (TPH) have been detected suggesting that releases of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and heavy or used oil have occurred.  Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) associated with petroleum hydrocarbons are present also. Total priority pollutant metals (arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and silver) are present as well as are low concentrations of PCBs.

Why are we treating groundwater and is the treatment system working? 

The wettest winter and spring in decades has resulted in the contractor having to dewater areas adjacent to Hoquarton Slough where excavation activities were necessary for foundation stabilization work and installation of new storm water collection systems. To advance these tasks, ODOT and its contractor found it necessary to deal with large volumes of contaminated groundwater.

The current treatment system filters fine sediments and then treats the impacted groundwater through a combination of carbon filters. Prior to discharge to the current City of Tillamook storm water system, the water is tested for all of the contaminants.  These include VOCs, PAHs, priority pollutant metals and TPH. All discharges meet criteria of ODOT's construction discharge permit. Water is tested before it is discharged to the environment.

Water that still contains contaminants of concern higher than permitted concentrations is treated again.  This retreated water is then tested again before it can be discharged to the environment. Treated water is only discharged to the storm water system when the concentrations meet DEQ Level 2 Ecological Screening concentrations. ODOT's goal is to have no impact on the adjacent waters of the Hoquarton Slough.

How does the Shell Station property figure into this issue? 

As part of the highway improvement project, it became necessary to significantly impact the former Tillamook Shell and Grocery property. This property has had continuous use of gasoline underground storage tanks since the early 1920’s.  

As part of the property acquisition, the property owner was required to remove (decommission by removal) the underground storage tank (UST) system. While the integrity of the UST system appeared to be whole during UST removal, soil and groundwater beneath the tanks was found to be impacted by petroleum hydrocarbons. The property owner and its consultant are actively working with DEQ's Leaking Underground Tanks Cleanup Program to define the problem and move towards site closure using DEQ's risk-based corrective action methods. When the property owners have been issued a decision that "No Further Action (NFA) is required at this time", the property will transfer to the state and the property owner will receive final payment for the property. This will satisfy Oregon DEQ cleanup requirements. 

More Information

How can we find out about upcoming construction activities during the project?

This website will be regularly updated during construction. You can also sign up for the project mailing list to receive email notifications. Residents and property owners will be contacted in advance of activities that will have noticeable impacts to their properties or businesses.

For more information or to schedule a meeting between the project and your organization, contact:
Ken Kohl, ODOT Project Manager, (541) 747-1496.