HERMISTON - Commuters in the Hermiston area may encounter reduced speeds, closed lanes and delays over the next few weeks due to a $4.5 million construction project that may take slightly longer to complete than expected.

Originally expected to be finished by Sept. 30, the machines used to mix pavement broke down on Thursday, stopping the repaving work on Highway 395 between Hermiston and Stanfield. Parts were flown in and on Friday the work resumed, said Bob McCafferty, co-owner of McCafferty-Whittle Construction of Gladstone.

The new completion date is set for the first week of October.

"That's my best guess," McCafferty said.

Despite the setback and additional work required for a two-mile stretch of Highway 395, the project is "significantly" under budget, said Pat Cimmiyotti, assistant program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

"It's not anything unusual for construction projects to encounter these kinds of things," Cimmiyotti said.

There will be no construction on weekends and crews plan to quit around 3 p.m. on Fridays. Monday through Thursday will be "long days," said Shane Wilhelm, senior inspector for ODOT.

The project is actually three projects, all grouped under the same contract. Cimmiyotti said by using the same company the state stands to save 10 percent on total cost.

In addition to repaving the six miles of highway linking the I-84 interchange in Stanfield and S.E. Fourth Street in Hermiston, crews are repaving a nine mile stretch of State Highway 207 between Strawberry Road and Butter Creek and will be erecting around 200 street signs in and around Hermiston.

The Highway 395 plan originally called for workers to grind two inches into the pavement of right-hand lanes, replace it with two inches of pavement then cover both lanes with three inches. More work is done on the "slow" lanes because of the wear and tear caused by tractor-trailers.

But Friday, workers discovered more grinding would be necessary to ensure that about two miles of road would last the estimated 15 years. Cimmiyotti said the extra materials and labor would not result in a higher price tag.

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