West Linn transportation board talks West A Street, Salamo Road
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the board meets every other month.
Last summer, The Tidings visited with each of the City's advisory board chairs to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work that helps define the future of West Linn.
A year later, we're rebooting that series to learn what has changed — and what hasn't — at the advisory board level since 2016.
We continue with the Transportation Advisory Committee.
Perhaps the most persistent hot-button issue in West Linn — and the larger Portland metro area — is transportation and its ugly stepsister traffic.
New residents continue to flock to the region, bringing a slew of cars and bicycles to jam onto already congested corridors. As debates over how to handle the problem continue — the Oregon Legislature passed a controversial transportation bill during the 2017 session — West Linn's Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) rarely finds itself at a loss for topics to discuss at its monthly meetings.
Most recently, according to Board Chair Craig Bell, the TAB has evaluated traffic and parking issues on West A Street near West Linn High School as well as a congestion problem on Salamo Road.
"This year, it's a lot of smaller issues (we're working on)," Bell said. "We don't have any big system plans or designs to consult on, at least none that I'm aware of at this time."
Bell said the West A Street issues are difficult to address at an advisory board level, so long as a city ordinance remains in place prohibiting parking during school hours without a residential sticker. Students from West Linn High School have pushed in recent months for a reevaluation of that policy given the scarcity of student parking offered on site.
"There are a couple minor things we could suggest to improve the state of affairs," Bell said. "There are a couple of issues where signs in a residential area could be posted in a different place, or they were turned the wrong way. But the broader issue — should the ordinance exist? — is beyond what we can do."
"This year, it's a lot of smaller issues (we're working on)." — Craig Bell, board chair
The Salamo issue, meanwhile, centers on a backup that tends to occur on Sundays when the Willamette Christian Church holds services. Churchgoers are allowed to park in the shopping center lot across the street — per the church's lease with the property owner — and backups occur when they cross Salamo going to and from the church with the help of crossing guards.
"The bottom line is we had to figure out whether there was something that was both safer and would improve traffic," Bell said. "It didn't seem like we could offer a better solution than what the crossing guards are already doing."
Bell said a small change could be encouraging people to cross closer to the Safeway entrance, as opposed to mid-block.
"As far as improved traffic flow, we haven't seen anything (indicating) that a traffic control device would actually speed it up," Bell said. "The crossing guards do a good job of stopping the flow of pedestrians to let traffic flow. A crosswalk might back traffic up even further because people would be hitting it all the time.
"It's a bit of a puzzler, and I'm sure there will be some refinement."
Looking ahead, Bell said the TAB will evaluate other items on its "wish list" for 2017, including how to manage and maintain new cycle tracks proposed as part of West Linn Highway 43 Conceptual Plan.
"It's not quite in the traffic lane and not quite the sidewalk either," Bell said, adding that the City appears to be leaning toward taking on responsibility for the cycle tracks. Highway 43 itself is controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Nothing has been finalized, however.
The TAB meets at City Hall on the fourth Wednesday of every other month at 6 p.m.