Juntura Cutoff Road is a two-lane county road that connects Altnow Reservoir, Beulah Reservoir, and the EP Minerals Celatom (EPM) mining site to U.S. Highway 20. It was designed as a rural road, not to accommodate continuous heavy freight or traffic. The road is actively used by mining trucks traveling to and from the EPM mine and by citizens accessing recreation opportunities on public lands and at nearby reservoirs. The current road surface was deteriorating due to a combination of material and drainage failures and was not able to withstand continued or increased heavy traffic. Road failures had led to cracking, numerous potholes, and a rough and uneven surface, causing safety, equipment, and efficiency issues for vehicles.
Harney County hired the AP and Ferguson Surveying and Engineering to design a road replacement project that stretches 7.5 miles between U.S. Highway 20 and the EPM site to improve the current drainage system and replace the road. The design includes a realignment of the connection with U.S. Highway 20 to provide a perpendicular and safe intersection, as well as lengthening a crest vertical curve to provide sight distance adequate to 35-mile-per-hour geometry.
The estimated cost of the project was $6.7 million, and a combination of state, local and company money was cobbled together to pay for the project, but the process to replace the road was what kept it within budget. The old asphalt was ground up by a machine. As that was happening, hot oil was injected into the mix, creating a foam which expanded in volume and covered all aggregate. This process binds it together to form a very strong base as it is laid down, allowing traffic to get back on the road right away. Along with 2.5 inches of new pavement added over the base, the project is expected to add about 20 years to the life of the road.
The technique, used in Oregon for the first time with Juntura Cutoff road, leaves a material that has about three times the strength of material produced by conventional processes that don’t use foam. The cost savings of using the new technique was $2 million to $2.5 million, helping make the project possible.