The small town of Lakeview in southeast Oregon has a timber mill and a prison. But according to city spokeswoman Dawn Lepori, potholes make getting to either hazardous.
“Some of the holes are so big that even if you hit them at slow speed, it still really wears and tears on your vehicle,” she said. ”So we really need to get them fixed.”
Lakeview is one of 27 small Oregon towns that were just approved funding to repair their roads by the state’s ‘Small City Allotment Advisory Committee.’
More than $6 million will help towns that have 5,000 or fewer residents and that have roads considered inadequate and or unsafe for the capacity they carry. Program manager Deann Edgar said she is amazed at how poorly some roads are maintained.
“It’s really shocking,” she said. “Every year when I get the pictures that come in with the applications, it’s pretty shocking the conditions of these streets.”
Edgar said repairs will include new paving, chip-sealing and road widening.
“These little cities are notorious for having these little, narrow streets that only one car can pass on,” Edgar said. “No shoulders, no sidewalks. So we’ve got kids trying to walk to school as well as traffic coming and going.”
Edgar said poorly repaired streets pose a problem for emergency response vehicles too, “They try to get up these broken-up little streets, and there’s no place on the end to turn around. It becomes a real safety issue.”
The Small City Allotment program was created by the passage of an Oregon transportation funding bill in 2017. To include as many cities as possible, the program does not require cities to add matching funds.
Edgar said for this sixth round of funding, the maximum award amount was increased from $100,000 to $250,000.
“That resulted in fewer awards — but these awards can really make a difference in today’s environment,” she said.
This year, the Oregon Department of Transportation received 84 applications requesting a total of $18,920,300.
The towns getting help are: North Plains, Amity, Bay City, Dayton, Detroit, Hubbard, Idanha, Nehalem, Oakridge, Rainier, Yachats, Canyonville, Gold Beach, Gold Hill, Myrtle Point, Oakland, Bonanza, Lakeview, Rufus, Elgin, Haines, Huntington, John Day, Lostine, Pilot Rock, Ukiah and Vale.