Funds will be used for first leg of concept plan on northern end of corridor

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - Last week, West Linn announced it had received $3 million in regional flexible funds from Metro to complete construction on the first phase of its Highway 43 concept plan. That initial phase covers the northern end of the Highway 43 corridor. West Linn's ongoing efforts to improve Highway 43 took a major step forward Feb. 22 when the City announced that it had received $3 million in regional flexible funds from Metro to support a newly updated Highway 43 concept plan.

The grant came as part of a $26 million package Metro awarded to 12 projects across the state as part of the 2019-21 regional flexible funding cycle. According to the City, 27 projects submitted requests for a total of $94 million in Metro grant funding.

Regional flexible funds are conveyed from the federal government to Metro for transportation improvements like bike and pedestrian facilities as well as alterations at intersections with traffic signals. On this particular project, West Linn will partner with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) which owns Highway 43.

"This is the first time that the City of West Linn has ever received regional flexible transportation grant funds from Metro," City Manager Eileen Stein said in a press release. "I'm excited to see this first phase of improvements move forward after witnessing the hard work put into the grant application and Highway 43 concept planning process by the community."

The Highway 43 Conceptual Design Plan was first conceived in 2008 and the 2016 update was intended to build on that existing plan while adding modern refinements.

Among the improvements included in the plan are buffered cycle tracks — pathways shielded by a physical barrier to protect riders from traffic — as well as improved pedestrian facilities and the addition of a center lane for left turns. The updated concept plan also calls for changes at specific intersections, including removing a traffic signal and the option for left turns off Cedaroak Drive onto Highway 43 while also extending Old River Drive so that it connects with the intersection of Hidden Springs Road and Highway 43.

The City Council voted 3-2 to approve the new concept plan Sept. 12, thus adding it to the overarching Transportation Systems Plan (TSP) which was also updated in 2016.

The $3 million is expected to fund improvements for the segment of the highway stretching from the northern city limits to just north of Mary S. Young Park.

The grant funds will be allocated between 2019 and 2021, which is also when construction would take place.

"It will cover the entire construction (for the first phase) of the project," Citizen Engagement Coordinator Courtney Flynn said. "The (regional flexible funding) doesn't just cover just one part, like bike lanes or repaving — it's all of it."

West Linn is also expected to received $1.1 million in Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds, which would be used only for planning and design as opposed to construction. The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) tentatively approved that STIP grant in 2016, but the City is still waiting for that decision to be finalized according to Stein.

In total, the first phase of the Highway 43 project has a preliminary cost estimate of $6 million. The cost estimate for the entire Highway 43 corridor is around $25 million.

"These are rough preliminary costs and detailed estimates will be completed once the design is finalized," Flynn said.

By Patrick Malee
Assistant Editor, West Linn Tidings
Pamplin Media Group
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