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Public gets more amenities for Canyon Creek extension


by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Canyon Creek Road South will run south from the Canyon Creek at Renaissance neighborhood to the intersection of Vlahos Drive and Town Center Loop East. The only question now is how wide the road will be. When it’s finished, the new Canyon Creek Road extension will provide drivers and bicyclists with a second direct route from Town Center Loop all the way to north Wilsonville.

And despite the fact it’s been 22 years since the city first identified the project as a transportation priority, local residents who will drive, bike and walk along the new roadway want to make sure it’s not carried out as a series of half measures.

“If we are to do this, let’s do it right,” Wilsonville resident and planning commissioner Peter Hurley told the Wilsonville Urban Renewal Agency at a Jan. 6 public hearing. “Let’s not do it halfway, and let’s do it to what the (transportation systems plan) is requesting. I know it’s not the cheap route.”

Ultimately, Wilsonville city councilors — who double as urban renewal agency members — chose to do just that, voting 4-1 in favor of a plan that ultimately could lead to the full build-out of Canyon Creek Road as a three-lane arterial between Boeckman Creek Road and Town Center Loop.

At approximately $6.2 million in engineering and construction costs, the full-street option would add bike lanes, public sidewalks, complete street lighting and landscaping to that stretch of road. Money for the project is slated to come from the city’s Year 2000 Urban Renewal District.

When completed, it would provide complete bike lanes from Town Center Loop to Elligsen Road and carry an estimated 5,000-7,000 vehicles per day. It would also establish future connection points for undeveloped land to the west owned by Mentor Graphics.

And therein lies the rub.

To construct the full-street option, the city now is asking the company to donate a strip of land up to 37 feet wide and roughly 1,000 feet long to accommodate the width of the new roadway, sidewalk and bicycle path.

The resolution approving the project therefore contains a caveat: Should Mentor Graphics decline to participate, the city would pursue a “three-quarters option” carrying a $4.4 million price tag instead.

This would feature a three-lane roadway between Vlahos Drive and Town Center Loop East only. This would leave two lanes running between Vlahos Drive north to Boeckman Creek Road.

Unlike the half-street option, the three-quarters option would also feature bicycle lanes running on both sides of the roadway between Town Center Loop East north to the point where the existing part of Canyon Creek Road begins.

Crucially, if Mentor Graphics declines to donate right of way for the project, the city would create a reimbursement district under state law to help cover the cost of the improvements that impact the company’s property. Reimbursement districts do not levy taxes or systems development charges on subject properties and are limited to a 10-year period in which to collect reimbursement for construction and engineering costs.

“Nancy and I did talk quite a bit about the lack of bike lanes with the half street,” said City Engineer and Project Manager Steve Adams. “We explained that it would be fairly expensive — it’s a stretch that’s 1,800 to 1,900 feet long — and you’d have to add a 10-foot wide concrete panel to allow for two bike lanes.”

But, he added, public testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of that route.

City staff met with Mentor Graphics executives about the matter on Dec. 7, but no decision has yet been made public, said Suzanne Graham, Mentor Graphics public relations manager.

“There’s no final decision yet,” Graham said last Friday. “Probably sometime next week.”

Nancy Kraushaar, the city’s community development director, said company representatives were “quite receptive” to the city’s pitch.

“What they are doing now is reviewing the numbers and making a final decision on whether or not they’re going to commit,” she said. “So far it’s looking good; you could go so far as to say they’re interested.”

The question of right of way is a big reason why city staff initially came to the council last fall with a proposal for a half-street option lacking the bike lanes and other amenities. It also came with a smaller price tag — $3.7 million.

But public demand changed the direction of the project, which city officials hope to put to design and put to bid by May.

“It’s pretty scary to think about riding your bike along that road if there’s no widening plan for that,” said Wilsonville resident Simon Springall, who lives on Vlahos Drive and commutes by bicycle to his job at Mentor Graphics. “The main problems with that two-lane road is there is no space for bikes, that’s pretty clear. You can’t just put a road in without any sort of bike lane at all.”