Basalt Creek Parkway opens Monday afternoon
(Editor's note: This story has been updated.)
Although a brief glitch in last-minute road striping delayed the early morning opening of Basalt Creek Parkway, the long-planned project became a concrete reality – or at least an asphalt reality – as the first segment of new roadway in between Tualatin, Sherwood and Wilsonville opened to the public Aug. 14.
From now until the end of April, motorists traveling along Tonquin Road will be diverted to the parkway that heads east to Grahams Ferry Road as a new water pipeline is installed underneath Tonquin Road.
Basalt Creek Parkway includes a travel lane in each direction along with intermittent turn lanes. The roadway also includes a 100-foot-long bridge that spans the Portland & Western Railroad tracks at a height of 24 feet.
While Tonquin Road is closed, the Willamette River Water Supply Program will install 66-inch water transmission pipe under the roadway.
Basalt Creek Parkway runs between Tonquin and Grahams Ferry roads, curving south of its intersection with the former to cut east-west, with Tonquin Road to the north and Clay Street paralleling it to the south.
At the same time they opened Basalt Creek Parkway, said officials from Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation, road crews closed Tonquin Road between its new intersection with the parkway and where it meets Grahams Ferry Road to the east.
Renus Kelfkens, county project manager for 124th Avenue/Basalt Creek Parkway project, and Melissa De Lyser, a spokeswoman for the Department of Land Use & Transportation, said they are glad to have the first piece of the new and upgraded road network in the area open to the public.
"It's a big deal. We're actually quite excited," De Lyser said. "It's providing a much-needed connectivity, and the fact that we have Basalt Creek to open while we do the work on Tonquin really helps us minimize the overall traffic impacts. … The way that we were able to juggle the construction schedules has been really beneficial to everybody."
Kelfkens said Basalt Creek Parkway has been striped for now as a two-lane roadway, although a bridge over the railroad tracks is wide enough to eventually accommodate five lanes — two for travel in either direction and then a center turn lane. The parkway will likely be expanded when development begins in the area.
Right now, the Basalt Creek area is mostly a mishmash of quarries, farms, fields, and a few corrugated-iron buildings here and there. Tualatin and Wilsonville have plans to annex the area and eventually redevelop it with a mixture of housing, manufacturing and high-tech businesses, although a joint planning process has stalled due to disagreements over what to do with a piece of land east of Grahams Ferry Road.
The Basalt Creek Parkway construction itself is part of a larger county road project that also will see 124th Avenue extended south from Tualatin-Sherwood Road; it will curve to the east where it meets Tonquin Road and become Basalt Creek Parkway. Sections of Tonquin and Grahams Ferry roads also will be expanded to three lanes; they currently are two-lane roads, one travel lane in either direction with no center turn lane.
While the extension of the 1.2-mile-long 124th Avenue was originally planned to open to traffic this fall, Kelfkens said it was pushed back to an expected spring opening, as the laying of water pipes, part of a joint infrastructure project by the Tualatin Valley Water District and the city of Hillsboro to tap the Willamette River as a drinking water source is being done in conjunction with the roadwork.
"It depended on how (the contractor) wanted to stage the work with the road construction and the pipeline. We gave them that flexibility," Kelfkens said. "The only thing that had to be done first was get Basalt Creek open as a detour for Tonquin."
The segment of roadway that opened to traffic Aug. 15 is about seven-tenths of a mile long, according to Kelfkens.
The county plans to further extend the new Basalt Creek Parkway east to Boones Ferry Road. That second phase has yet to be designed, but Kelfkens said he hopes to see construction begin by 2020.
Once the entire project is complete, interlinking segments of Tualatin-Sherwood Road, 124th Avenue, Basalt Creek Parkway and Boones Ferry Road will form a regional freight route, according to De Lyser and Kelfkens.
For Sherwood, the opening of 124th will be a boom to local commerce in the area as well with the creation of the Tonquin Employment Area, a 300-acre parcel of land annexed by city voters several years ago. The area, bounded by Tualatin's already completed portion of 124th Avenue to the east, Tualatin-Sherwood Road to the north and Oregon Street to the west, is earmarked for small- to mid-sized manufacturing firms expected to create as many as 3,000 jobs.
Ray Pitz contributed to this report.