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At long last, finish Chemawa

It is time for the city of Keizer to get tough with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) regarding the completiton of the Chemawa Road project that is, yet again, on hold due to utilities.

The discovery of unknown utility infrastructure is the cause of the lastest work stoppage. The neighbors and users of Chemawa Road deserve better.

ODOT, in charge of the $3.5 million project, had to stop work earlier this year after unknown utilities were discovered. The project can not proceed until those are relocated. Until that happens Chemawa Road proves to be an obstacle course for pedestrians and bicyclists and an eyesore for the homeowners affected by the deep trenches and gravel driveway entrances.

It is hard to fathom how a state agency and its contractors can be stymied by utility wires and pipes. The private sector is implored to call 8-1-1 before their dig on their property. A call to that number lets a property owner know where existing utility wires and pipes are located so they are not disturbed or damaged if they want to dig. How could the contractors not follow this simple task?

The city is at the mercy of the contractor and the companies that need to relocate their hardware. The  city’s public works department should not accept this state of affairs and demand that ODOT to complete the project, which was slated to be completed next month. The original completion date was 2012.

Regardless of which agency is the lead contractor, Keizer citizens will turn to its city government for answers and a resolution to this long-time construction project. If the delay goes on too much longer the project runs the risk of continuing into the new school year; how nice it would be to start the 2014 school year in September with a traffic light at Chemawa Road and Delight Street.

The city needs to have a better answer than it’s an ODOT project; the project is in our city and we expect our city government to be a squeaky wheel and do what it can to see the project is finished. The residents, pedestrians and bicyclists deserve nothing less.