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home : current news : current news June 28, 2016

11/13/2012 1:46:00 PM
New ODOT facility to go on-line this winter
The four-bay shop is a major improvement in storage and working conditions. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
The four-bay shop is a major improvement in storage and working conditions. photo by Jim Cornelius

A maze of piping created a geothermal heating system. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
A maze of piping created a geothermal heating system. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Winter is a busy season for the crews that work the Sisters district for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). They keep the roads de-iced, and when the snow falls they work the plows to keep the highway clear.

This winter, they'll be operating out of a new facility on Highway 126 just east of Sisters.

The agency is in the final stages of a $3.3 million project, building a 10,000-square-foot four-bay maintenance shed and a 7,500-square-foot storage building. The site also holds a two-year supply of crushed cinders used to provide traction on icy roads.

According to ODOT District Manager Pat Creedican, the project started after the U.S. Forest Service determined to sell its headquarters property at the west end of Sisters. While that property has not yet been sold, ODOT knew that the maintenance facility that has long been on that USFS land would need to be moved. Fortunately, the 22-acre ODOT-owned parcel on Highway 126 was a viable alternative. Otherwise, the agency was looking at an additional $2 million or so in land costs, or basing Sisters equipment out of Bend.

That would have cost a lot in terms of travel time and extra fuel costs, and made ODOT less able to respond quickly to the needs of the district, which runs from Jack Lake Road east to the edges of Bend and Redmond.

"As opposed to moving everybody into Bend, it's a huge preservation of service," Creedican said.

The new facility offers much better equipment storage and work conditions than the previous site. All the equipment can be put under a roof, which saves a lot of time and work in winter conditions, where plows have to be cleaned of snow and inspected after each run.

The facility is heated with an innovative geothermal heat-pump system, supplemented with some solar power. Construction project manager Luis Umana explained that a maze of tubing circulates water under the sprawling asphalt pad in front of the shop area. Laid seven feet down, where the temperature is a consistent 50 degrees, the pipes circulate warm water, which is used for radiant floor heating. With a boost from solar power, the shop floor is kept at 55 degrees and the office at 65 degrees.

The alternative would have been expensive propane heating.

Creedican acknowledged that the fence around the property has created some concern from neighbors. A massive chain link expanse, it is highly visible along Highway 126. Creedican noted that per the paint supplier's instructions, the fence will sit unpainted for six months, then be painted to blend in with the surrounding area.

Some trees have been planted to screen the buildings from view.

"We have to make this acceptable for the neighbors and everything," Creedican said.

ODOT was also required to install a 60,000-gallon water tank for fire protection, water which is available for any emergency in the vicinity.

The facility is expected to be operational by mid-December and carry a crew of six year-round and eight in the winter. With weather already setting in, it looks like they'll stay busy.

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