A large federal transportation grant totaling as much as $15 million could finance a long list of new and old road projects in John Day.

The John Day City Council on July 9 gave City Manager Nick Green approval to move ahead with submitting an application for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, transportation discretionary grant, previously known as TIGER grants. The deadline was July 15.

Green told the council June 25 that about $900 million in BUILD grant funding was available this year, with about half going to rural areas. The U.S. Department of Transportation could waive the 20% match typically required for the grants, he said.

Green brought back a scoping recommendation for the grant on July 9. Many of the projects on the list were already in city plans. While the total could reach $15 million, the average BUILD grant request was $14 million, Green said, so their request was reasonable.

The 20% match could be met with credit for related city projects, Green said, such as an integrated park system, the Charolais Heights intersection upgrade and rebuilding the foot bridge at the former Oregon Pine mill site, as well as with utility work performed under memorandum of understanding agreements with Oregon Trail Electrical Cooperative and Oregon Telephone Corp.

Projects in the scoping list included (some cost estimates were not available):

• Extending Seventh Street from Bridge Street west to Patterson Bridge Road. The $4.8 million estimate included utilities, sidewalks, street lights and routing Seventh Street farther north should the John Day River channel be changed.

• Two new roads connecting Seventh Street and Valley View Drive to Government Entry Road at the Malheur National Forest supervisor’s office building. The estimated cost was $652,363.

• Improvements, parking and utilities for Johnson Drive, the new road connecting Highway 26 to the planer shed and greenhouses on the former Oregon Pine mill site.

• An access road and parking for the new wastewater treatment plant.

• Expanding utility connections for Iron Triangle property near Oregon Pine.

• Improvements to the Charolais Heights intersection, estimated at $240,000.

• Footbridge and parking access for the new Hill Family Park along with west access and parking for the Seventh Street Complex, estimated at $471,927.

• Renovation of the footbridge at Oregon Pine, estimated at $75,000.

• Access and parking for future office space at Oregon Pine.

• Extending the Charolais Heights road east and then down the hill past the sports complex to a new bridge constructed over the John Day River connecting to Third Street.

The last item is an expensive project that had been considered for long-term planning, Green told the council. Having three bridges to access the north side of John Day would enable major repairs to the Bridge Street and Patterson Bridge Road bridges one at a time while still having two bridges in service, he said.

The Charolais Heights road extension, like the extensions west to Patterson Bridge Road, would open up vacant land for subdivision development, Green said.

Next steps to complete the BUILD application included finalizing memorandum of understanding agreements with OTEC, Ortelco, Iron Triangle and the Holmstrom family, which owns the land east of the sports complex, finalizing cost estimates, seeking letters of recommendation and finalizing a narrative, Green said.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.



Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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