WINCHESTER — Work on the Old Highway 99N/Winchester Area Improvement Project is taking longer than expected.
Construction on the second of two bridges, and the entire project, was originally scheduled to be completed by Thursday, according to press releases from Douglas County. Now, Josh Heacock, engineering and construction manager for Douglas County Public Works, said the entire project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Construction on the Old Highway 99N road improvement project began on May 8 and has endured a few delays, including 222,240 gallons of sewage that spilled into the North Umpqua River on Sept. 18. Heacock said the project is pretty well on schedule and expects it to be done by the end of the year.
“The whole project, including the replacement of the bridges, the utilities and sidewalks should be completed by Dec. 31,” Heacock said.
Meanwhile, residents and those who have business north of the closure, are still accessing the area from Exit 129 on Interstate 5. For those who live or work south of the closure, access is from the south on Northeast Stephens Street in north Roseburg.
The detours resulted in a number of complaints from residents earlier this year about drivers using neighborhoods as a detour and driving recklessly.
While other businesses have reported negative impacts from the project, Paul Morehouse, owner of the Winchester Pub & Grill, said his business has been just fine.
“Actually my business hasn’t slowed down, it’s actually picked up, and the only problem I have is with the cars going through here too fast,” Morehouse said. “I really don’t know why, maybe the influx of traffic coming through here has done it, but I got a lot of new customers.”
Morehouse said he was told the highway would be open by Oct. 31, but now he expects it to be the middle of November before it’s opened for traffic.
In late June, the South Bridge located just north of Taft Drive and south of Virgia Lane was closed to through traffic while contractors from R&G Excavating of Roseburg and utility crews for the Douglas County Public Works Department completed that part of the project and that bridge was opened the second week of September.
Heacock said the project has been going as planned. The overall cost was estimated at $8.5 million, and the Roseburg Urban Sanitary Authority has provided $2.1 million in funding and the remaining revenue comes from the county’s allocation of the Federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program.
County public works officials were scheduled to meet Tuesday to get a detailed progress report on the project.