American Public Works Association
2013 Public Works Project of the Year
Award category:
$25 million - $75 million

Uniting a divided highway
Project: Highway 213 Jughandle Improvement Project
Managing agency: City of Oregon City, Ore.
Primary transportation engineering consultant: Kittelson & Associates Inc.
Primary engineering consultant: OBEC Consulting Engineers
Primary contractor: Mowat Construction Co.

An average daily traffic (ADT) count of 65,000 didn’t by itself make the intersection of Highway 213 with I-205 in Oregon City one of Oregon’s most congested corridors. A barrier was preventing left turns and straight movements across the highway at the northbound interstate ramps and the Clackamas River Drive-Washington Street intersection.

In 2011, Oregon City and the state DOT partnered on a series of traffic and safety improvements that were wrapped up in the summer of 2013:

  • Make the highway a six-lane divided facility with raised median control
  • Reconfigure the intersection as separate, signalized right in/right-out connections Separate the intersection and highway grades by running Washington Street under the highway
  • Give Redland Road an exclusive eastbound right turn lane at its intersection with the highway
  • Equip all facilities to serve pedestrian, bicycle, transit, vehicular, and freight movement.

Traffic to and from Washington Street and Clackamas River Drive off of the highway now travels a "jughandle" configuration that eliminates the need for left turns.

The plan required a highway bridge to be replaced. Staging construction traditionally would have closed at least two travel lanes for 12 to 16 months. Instead, the project team’s plan kept all lanes open during construction via accelerated bridge construction. A new, 130-foot bridge superstructure was built next to the existing highway; the old bridge demolished; and the new bridge moved into its place.

In addition to shaving six months off construction time, the approach allowed the contractor to maintain unrestricted daytime traffic during all but four days and five nights of the two-year construction timeline.

Click here for the rest of the award-winning projects.

Next year’s award deadline: March 4, 2014

The project had a fill area in the floodplain of 39,000 cubic yards, and to meet city code requirements to balance cut and fill, an additional 27,000 cubic yards was necessary. The site of a previous lumber mill, it was converted to wetlands populated with native species to address the city’s floodplain and natural resource protection requirements. Tree stumps from the excavation were used to create habitat, and sawdust was over-excavated from the site to improve growing conditions and reused by local landscape companies.

Extensive public involvement and outreach, including a newsletter and webpage featuring a live construction camera, was implemented before and during the closure to ensure drivers were aware of the closure.

Result: The entire process, including excavating 433 cubic yards of asphalt and 8,000 to 10,000 cubic yards of material under existing roadway, was completed on time by March 27, 2012.

The American Public Works Association presents Public Works Projects of the Year awards annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant, and their cooperative achievements. APWA is a not-for-profit, international organization that serves 28,500 members through education, advocacy, and knowledge exchange. It’s headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and has an office in Washington, D.C., as well as 63 chapters in North America.