The recently opened stretch of Highway 20 on the Oregon coast.

The recently opened stretch of Highway 20 on the Oregon coast.

Chris Lehman/OPB

After more than a decade of construction, a section of U.S. Highway 20 in Oregon’s Coast Range is now open to traffic.

The Oregon Department of Transportation broke ground on the project, which is near the small town of Eddyville, in 2005. The goal was to build a 5-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, which ODOT removed from the job in 2012. The state even considered abandoning the project at that point. But the Oregon Transportation Commission decided to proceed.

The initial budget of $140 million was soon a distant memory, and ultimately the state spent about $365 million.

But even with the new section finally open, full nighttime closures of both the old and new sections of the road continue six nights a week through the end of October.

And ODOT officials say the finishing touches won’t be done until next summer, when work to straighten one final curve at the west end of the project is scheduled to be completed.