By Kyle Bailey
News Radio 1240 KQEN
January 15, 2016 5:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect weekday rolling slowdowns to continue on Interstate Five between Rice Hill and Cottage Grove through the end of February.
Dan Latham of the Oregon Department of Transportation says most delays will last for less than 20 minutes. Latham says drivers should give themselves extra time to reach their destinations.
The rolling slowdowns use pilot cars to slow traffic to about 30 miles per hour for the 10 miles leading up to the work zone. The slowdowns are needed for tree-clearing operations and blasting as workers prepare to excavate a new southbound auxiliary/climbing lane on the hill south of the Drain/Oregon 38 interchange. The tree clearing began earlier this week and will continue through next week. The rolling slowdowns give workers about 15 minutes to cut trees and clean up debris when there are no cars in the adjacent travel lanes.
Only a handful of trees can be cut during each slowdown and a few hundred trees need to be removed prior to excavating the hillside. As a result about 20 to 30 rolling slowdowns have been taking place each day.
Once the tree cutting operations are complete, blasting operations will begin. This phase will require rolling slowdowns in both directions of the freeway for about five weeks. However, since workers only blast once or twice a day, there will be fewer rolling slowdowns and less impact to traffic.
ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk says the overall project will impact traffic for about 18 months.
Along with constructing the southbound auxiliary/climbing lane, the contractor will resurface about eight miles of the freeway between milepost 154 and 162 as well.