PENDLETON - When the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation began construction on their stretch of Mission Road, it appeared that improvements were going to end about 370 feet from the Highway 30 junction.

That's where the reservation boundary ends, the remaining road - including an underpass section - falling under the jurisdiction of both the state and county.

Umatilla County and the Oregon Department of Transportation assure, however, that they have committed to extending those improvements all the way to Highway 30.

"You've got three different entities," said Hal Phillips, director of public works for Umatilla County. "It took all three of us to get together."

The road work from the reservation boundary goes approximately three miles to the intersection with north-south Oregon Route 331. Work crews will install guard rails, widen the road and include bike lanes on both sides to make travel safer for people traveling to and from Mission.

Some citizens were worried when it appeared those improvements were going to end before Mission Road connected with Highway 30, specifically that the bike lanes would terminate and bottleneck with the regular highway.

ODOT spokesman Tom Strandberg has stated, however, that the state and county are committed to widening the shoulder and finishing a "good, consistent bike lane."

"For us, we felt it was a good partnering," said Strandberg. He said that state help will come from the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

"Everybody has been cooperating as far as I can tell," said Thomas Shuman, civil engineer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

He explained that the tribes have been working for about 10 years to improve Mission Road. "Now we have improved three miles of it," he said.

Shuman said he thought it would be beneficial to make improvements from Highway 30 all the way into Pendleton. With narrow shoulders and missing areas of sidewalk for pedestrians, Shuman said, "I can see problems all the way to the hospital."

Most of that work, however, would belong to ODOT, and according to Strandberg, is not planned.

The state and county work on Mission Road is scheduled to be completed with the current work on the reservation.

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