WL council OKs two Highway 43 deals
West Linn's efforts to dramatically improve Highway 43 took another step forward Monday, Feb. 12, as the City Council voted unanimously to approve two cooperative agreements with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
The first agreement related to "delivery" of the project — matters concerning construction oversight and grant management — and the second laid out responsibilities for maintenance of the road moving forward. Because the project is funded in part by federal dollars that were funneled through Metro, construction will be overseen by the federal government through ODOT, while the City and ODOT will continue to share maintenance responsibilities.
"(These agreements were) a little delayed," Public Works Director Lance Calvert said. "We had questions back and forth with ODOT, and they were able to get back to us, and pretty much what I would tell you is there's nothing we can change here."
With these agreements now in place, the City and ODOT can press forward with improvements that were proposed as part of a 2016 update to the Highway 43 Conceptual Design Plan. That revised plan calls for a number of improvements like protected bike lanes, enhanced pedestrian amenities and a center lane for left turns.
Between the Metro funds and an additional $1.1 million in Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds, the City has received about $4.1 million for the first phase of construction from Arbor Drive to Hidden Springs Road.
"Our local match is anticipated to be about $2 million," Calvert said. "As outlined in the agreement, that will come from three sources: the Streets Fund, the Environmental Services Fund and the Streets SDC (Systems Development Charges) Fund."
The council was largely supportive of the proposed agreements, but did have some questions. Mayor Russ Axelrod, for instance, wondered if it was possible for the City to handle some of the contracting responsibilities for construction.
"I thought we'd be lowering costs by doing some ourselves," he said.
"Because of the federal funds involved, only the state can administer the project," Calvert said.
Axelrod also asked if there was any flexibility in the 20-year length of the road maintenance agreement, given that the City is taking on additional responsibility in maintaining the new bike lanes and other pedestrian amenities.
"It seems to me that it's kind of a wide span, and (it would be good) if there were an opportunity for periodic review to see if we need to change anything in maintenance," Axelrod said. "Because we're sort of launching into a new world of maintaining Highway 43."
But again, Calvert said that the 20-year agreement was standard for ODOT and not something that could be negotiated.