Eugene repairs 80 miles of road in 2009

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EUGENE, Ore. -- Driving in Eugene, slowly but surely, is becoming a smoother proposition.

City officials say a busy 2009 street repair program is the reason. There is more on tap for 2010, like a big reconstruction project in the 18th and Chambers area. There 16 projects are on the "to do" list for next year.

Thanks to an infusion of voter-approved bond money, federal stimulus dollars and lower labor costs, city officials say the war against pot holes has taken a turn after putting down 80 miles in 2009.

Eighty miles is the distance from Eugene to just past Woodburn on Interstate 5 -- and how many miles of Eugene streets have been fixed or resurfaced this year.

Eugene city councilors hopped on a bus Wednesday to get a firsthand look at the work.

"I think we're really getting our money's worth out of this project, all these projects," said Councilor George Poling.

"The work is not done," said Kurt Corey, the city's public works director. "It's an incremental process, but this is certainly a year that we can talk about having made some progress."

For 2009, the city logged 21 projects. Lower oil prices made the pavement cheaper and very competitive bidding drove down the cost for those 80 miles even more.

"The public work that's out there seems to be really competitive, the prices on the bids," said Mark Schoening, Eugene's city engineer. "We're anywhere from 15 to 25 percent lower than we think."

One major project this year: Crest Drive as it runs by the Wayne Morse Ranch.

What was a patched up collection of pot holes has turned into a smooth surface, a more narrow street and sidewalks.

But to keep the momentum rolling, the city says it may have to ask you for more money.

"Council has certainly talked about the concept of a transportation utility fee," said Corey with public works.