Tigard transportation improvements coming along, with new signal
The long-awaited traffic signal at the northern intersection of Walnut Street and 135th Avenue in Tigard is now online.
The replacement of an all-way stop at the T-shaped intersection means the last stop signs motorists encountered on the Murray Boulevard-Walnut Street corridor are gone. Any such other all-way stops on the major road, from where it is signed as Murray Boulevard north of Highway 26 and south through Beaverton to Tigard, where it becomes Walnut Street and continues south and east to Highway 99W, were replaced years ago by traffic signals.
The project, originally set to wrap up by the end of June, extended into early July. As of Tuesday, though, the all-way stop signs are gone, the traffic lights are working and diamond-shaped construction signs are up to alert motorists to the new signal.
Mike McCarthy, Tigard's traffic engineer, said the reason for installing the signal was to address rush-hour delays at the intersection.
"We figure it will significantly decrease wait times," Mike McCarthy said last month. "We know it's pretty bad, especially around 5 o'clock or so."
McCarthy said Tuesday evening that vehicles appeared to be getting through the intersection on the first signal cycle, which he saw as a good sign.
"It's looking a whole lot better than it was before the signal," McCarthy said of the traffic flow on Walnut Street.
In Tigard, 135th Avenue is not a contiguous road. The southern leg of it branches off Walnut Street just south of the newly signalized intersection and travels up into the Bull Mountain neighborhood. Motorists on Walnut Street are not required to stop at that southern intersection, which is not controlled by the new traffic signal.
The signalization was part of a Washington County-funded project to improve safety along Walnut Street. The total project cost was about $6.9 million.
Meanwhile, a project to replace a mid-block crosswalk on Hall Boulevard just north of Highway 99W has yet to break ground.
The Oregon Department of Transportation secured an agreement with the City of Tigard earlier this year to relocate the crossing to the north of a driveway into the Tigard Plaza shopping center and install a flashing beacon to alert vehicles to stop for pedestrians as they cross the busy street, which is officially a state route, Highway 141.
"It's coming," said Shelli Romero, an ODOT spokeswoman, on Monday.
Romero had originally estimated the project would get done last month, but she told The Times that "with the winter, we got behind." She said ODOT expects to review the bids it has received for the contract and select a contractor soon.
"That rectangular rapid-flash beacon will be installed this summer," Romero said.
The crosswalk being replaced was the scene of a near-fatal crash in December 2014, when a vehicle struck a 19-year-old woman. The victim, Holly Lour, has since filed suit against ODOT and the City of Tigard, alleging negligence in maintaining a crosswalk that was originally installed in 1990 by the city without proper state permits.
Romero told The Times in May that after the lawsuit was filed, ODOT conducted a study to determine whether it should upgrade the crossing or remove it altogether. It determined there was enough "foot traffic" in the area to merit a replacement with more safety features, she said.
In addition to the flashing beacon, a median island will be installed at the new crosswalk location. The old crosswalk markings south of the Tigard Plaza driveway will be obliterated as part of the project.
There is another mid-block crosswalk on Hall Boulevard about 3 miles to the northwest, in Beaverton, and another about a mile to the south, near the Tigard Public Library, that are controlled by overhead traffic signals.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional quotes from Tigard's traffic engineer.
By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times