WL council approves controversial road improvement contract
The West Linn City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve a $852,181 contract for the City's annual Street Improvement Plan — but with extreme caution. In making their decision, councilors noted that it was important to formally approve the bid for timing's sake, but that alterations would be made to the work plan to address numerous concerns voiced by residents.
At issue was the work planned for Kenthorpe Way — a small dead-end street that runs adjacent to the Lake Oswego-Tigard (LOT) water treatment plant in the Robinwood area. The City plans to completely redo the street — likely in mid-August — as part of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that was part of the LOT project. The majority of the funding for that effort, as well as the other two projects in the 2017 Street Improvement Plan, is expected to come from Lake Oswego and Tigard.
Yet unlike the repaving that started on Mapleton Drive last year, the Kenthorpe work was expected to require a complete closing of the street during work hours for as long as two weeks. A number of residents testified against that idea during Monday's meeting, citing their need to leave for work, the grocery store, doctor appointments and other important matters. They were particularly concerned about the oldest and youngest residents along Kenthorpe, as well as those with limited mobility.
"There's probably 80 or 90 vehicles that need to make trips and park," resident and West Linn Planning Commissioner Lamont King said. "A number of elderly people live on Kenthorpe, and to expect them to walk in and out of that two or three times a day is totally unreasonable."
The contractor, S2, will work under a 90-day contract for the whole project, which also includes work on Mapleton Drive and Old River Road. Assistant City Engineer Erich Lais said work on Kenthorpe would occur during specified work hours and the City would work to provide accommodations like golf cart transport for anyone who has an urgent need to leave the neighborhood. Construction would likely last between a week-and-a-half and two weeks.
"Granted, that's if everything goes well," Lais said. He added that the City has plenty of experience with these projects, having completed similar work in other areas the past three summers.
When asked why Kenthorpe couldn't remain half-open to traffic, as Mapleton did, Lais said the projects differ in scope.
"It's hard with this process," he said. "If you're just doing a paving project, you can pave one side and have traffic on the other. Since we're basically redoing and re-grading the whole road (on Kenthorpe), it's difficult to have traffic going in and out."
He added that changing construction methods to open up the street would lengthen the timeline of the project.
In the end, the council felt obligated to approve the contract but pledged to come up with solutions to the array of problems presented by residents. A second neighborhood meeting will be scheduled to address concerns, while the council and staff also plan to work with the cities of Lake Oswego and Tualatin on potential parking solutions.
"I wouldn't like this happening on my street and I really do feel for you being inconvenienced and what you've had to put up with," City Council President Brenda Perry said. "To me, this is the last hurdle (in the LOT project), and we'll make sure we can get through it as soon as possible."
"It's not just about money, it's about getting it done in a timely manner because you all have been through so much already," City Councilor Teri Cummings said. "If there's any problem with any of the remedies we come up with, we want to know about it and address it in a satisfactory manner."