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Prison, state hospital impact studied.

Byline: Karen McCowan The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (Ran Aug. 31, 2007): A new state mental hospital in Junction City is slated to be finished in 2013. The expected completion date for the 360-bed hospital was incorrect in a Saturday story on Page D1

JUNCTION CITY - 2015 seems a long way off - unless you're a small city preparing for two new state institutions that will effectively double the demand on your water and wastewater systems.

That's why city administrator David Clyne convened a work session this week with two dozen state and regional officials as Junction City makes way for a state prison with a capacity of 1,800 to 2,000 inmates and a 360-bed state mental hospital.

Site work is expected to begin in 2009 on the minimum and medium-security prison, state corrections Community Development Manager Bobbi Burton said Friday. Actual building construction is slated to begin in 2010, with inmates projected to move in by the end of 2012.

Construction of an adjacent state mental hospital is expected to begin in 2013, with completion in 2015, according to State Hospital Replacement Project Manager Linda Hammond.

The hospital will cost an estimated $163.1 million. The state has released no estimate for construction of the prison, but a similar combination minimum-security and medium-security prison under construction in Madras is expected to cost about $191 million.

Clyne called a daylong brainstorming session to consider all the impacts of the facilities, the estimated 1,000 to 1,300 combined employees and an unknown number of daily visitors.

The two institutions will be an intensive use of the 236-acre site, located between Highway 99 and Prairie Road south of Milliron Road. The hospital portion of the site is located at the southern end of Junction City's urban growth boundary. The boundary would have to be extended to take in the proposed prison location.

Their combined effect on city services is expected to be the equivalent of doubling Junction City's current population of 4,965, Clyne said, although the projects would only increase the city's current, 1,389-acre area, by 17 percent.

"Both will have a larger impact than normal, office-type development because they're 24/7 operations," Hammond said Friday.

The facilities are also expected to place significant demands on city and state transportation systems.

Roads that are likely to need improvements include Highway 99 and Prairie, Milliron and Meadowview roads, said Ed Moore, who represented the Oregon Department of Transportation at the Wednesday brainstorming session.

An additional feature of the site will complicate those road improvements, he said Friday.

"We have the unique situation of railroads on both sides of the state property," Moore said.

One track, owned by Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, runs along the west side of the land adjacent to Highway 99. About a mile away, the east side of the site is bracketed by the Union Pacific Railroad, which runs approximately parallel to Prairie Road.

"ODOT won't permit any new, at-grade rail crossings," Moore said. "And we don't want to see any existing same-grade crossings widened."

The agency is requiring hospital and prison planners to conduct traffic assessments to determine whether existing, two-lane same-grade crossings on Milliron and Meadowview roads can handle trip volumes generated by the institutions. A similar analysis probably will be required of nearby at-grade crossings on Prairie Road several miles north of the state sites. If the studies are favorable, "arms and lights" warning devices would have to be installed to replace the stop signs now at each railroad crossing.

If the existing, two-lane crossings won't accommodate the additional vehicles, ODOT will require overpasses or underpasses at the crossings. And, because the Burlington Northern track is already so close to ODOT's Highway 99 right-of-way, any such structure there would have to "loop back around on the west side of the highway" in order to provide the minimum 24-foot clearance required over a railroad, Moore said.

Furthermore, "some very high-powered electrical lines" run along that stretch of Highway 99, so some of the towers holding those lines also might need raising, he said.

"We're probably looking at a minimum of $10 million for a grade-separated crossing to go up and over the railroad tracks from Highway 99," Moore said. In addition, he predicted that dedicated left-turn lanes would be needed on Highway 99 to prevent rear-end collisions at Milliron and Meadowview roads.

Because the 2007 Legislature authorized "super-siting" of the prison and hospital, however, state agencies are obligated to find solutions to such challenges, he added.

"We have to review it with the idea that we need to make it work," he said.

Junction City has already commissioned plans for upgrading and expanding its water and wastewater systems to serve the prison and hospital, Clyne said. City engineer John Yarnall of Westtech Engineering said Junction City appears to have sufficient groundwater rights to provide water to the new facilities and should be able to expand and extend its wastewater services to the state site in time for the prison's scheduled opening.

Other issues include completion of a wetlands study on the land and development of a mitigation plan if any wetlands need to be filled in order for construction to begin.

"That may require a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers," said Kirk Jarvie of the Department of State Lands.

Junction City also will have to update its comprehensive plan, said Kay Bork, the city's planner.

The city will need to re-examine its inventory of buildable lands as part of insuring adequate housing for prison and hospital workers.

"Based on comments Wednesday, the housing impacts might not be as great for us" as for a more isolated city, Bork said. The Junction City hospital will be one of two replacements for the current, outdated state hospital in Salem, she said. Many employees of that facility, targeted for closure, already commute to work from the Eugene-Springfield area.
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Title Annotation:General News; Junction City officials examine the demands that the two future state facilities will place on the city's services
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 25, 2007
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