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Viking Expressway Plans Approved
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April 1, 2000 - After years on the drawing board and several financial setbacks, the state this week gave the final go-ahead for construction to begin on the so-called "Viking Expressway", which will connect I-5 with Junction City, and then parallel Hwy. 99 W. through Monroe to Corvallis.

Artist's rendition of the completed expressway at the Hwy 99 split across from Safeway.

ODOT planners have had the connection between I-5 and  the Tri-County area on the burner for years; but the impending prison construction just south of the city coupled with the increased growth rate of the Junction City/Harrisburg area in the last few years helped to move the project forward.

"We're thrilled, of course", said Chamber president Fred Barden. "The congestion on Highway 99 between Beltline and Junction City has been getting worse each year, and this will really help take some of the pressure off drivers traveling north. It won't be bad for local businesses, either."

Others expressed mixed feelings. "It will be nice to get to I-5 faster," said long-time resident Linda VanOrden, "but I do have concerns about impact on the farmlands towards Monroe."

Construction on the expressway is expected to begin mid-April, with the connection to Junction City completed by late next year, and finished to Corvallis by 2006.