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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

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

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.