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State kills $17M highway project due to severe soil settling

Highway 97 near La Pine (ODOT camera)

LA PINE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon transportation officials have officially ended a $17 million highway overpass project in central Oregon due to severe soil settling.

State transportation director Matt Garrett told the Oregon Transportation Commission Thursday that the agency has failed the public.

The Wickiup Junction project was to build an overpass in La Paine to allow U.S. Highway 97 to travel over an at-grade BNSF Railway crossing.

Construction began in 2016 but was suspended in May. Tests found earthen ramps leading to the bridge structure were settling at an unusual pace.

The Bulletin reports that ODOT officials acknowledged they focused too much on designing and constructing the overpass rather than on the soil. No geotechnical engineer signed off on the initial testing.

The commission on Thursday agreed to use the remaining money, about $3 million, to continue analyzing the soi

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