Old Town residents unhappy with road extension
For Old Town residents and those who currently enjoy solitude along 5th Street, reviews of the 5th Street to Kinsman Road extension — described at an April 10 open house — vary from mixed to poor.
And City of Wilsonville staff acknowledge that the project, which will initially connect Boones Ferry Road to Kinsman Road and could eventually extend 5th Street even further to Brown Road and connect the Ice Age Tonquin Trail, which could establish connections between natural areas in Wilsonville, will increase traffic in the area. The project, though, isn't necessarily geared toward Old Town residents.
Instead, it's designed to spark development and forge a connection across town — which could particularly benefit residents who live on the west side of town. .
"It completes a big section of the (Ice Age) Tonquin Trail, so for people who live in all the neighborhoods on the west side it's really great for them to be able to take that over to the commercial area in Old Town or to the park," Wilsonville Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar said.
Old Town is located near Boones Ferry Park and its only outlet to Wilsonville Road is along Boones Ferry Road. Attendees of the open house were almost exclusively residents whose property resides in Old Town or near the proposed construction area.
Old Town resident Mary Joyce Van Wechel believed the project will lead to significantly increased traffic for Old Town residents.
"It's not something Old Town really wanted in our neighborhood. To bring 4,000 cars a day into our neighborhood is not good. We're already being affected by Fred Meyers, with all the people that come down there and then they back up the traffic all the way to Boones Ferry," Van Wechel said.
Despite funding issues, the design plans for the extension are near completion and construction is slated to begin in 2019. The City of Wilsonville hosted its final open house last Tuesday at Wilsonville City Hall.
The newest project estimates are $4.5 more expensive than the city anticipated so construction was pushed back from 2018 to 2019. And plans to extend the Ice Age Tonquin Trail to connect with Boones Ferry Road and a redesign of Boones Ferry Road between Bailey Street and Fifth Street have not received funding.
"We said 'Let's step back, see how the funding evolves and reschedule the construction to start the following year,'" Kraushaar said.
Project Manager with OBEC Consulting Engineers Allen Hendy said the 90 percent completed designs are similar to the designs at the previous open house, but project staff changed the amount of lanes along 5th Street from three to two to decrease the amount of traffic that flows through the area. The road is also narrow compared to other city streets.
"The main thing we've tried to do is make it a fairly narrow road so that the traffic is slower and we've created designated places for bicycles and pedestrians so that now they aren't mixed up together," Kraushaar said. "We also have raised the intersection at Boones Ferry Road at 5th Street so that's intended to slow traffic and create a sense of place."
As for development, Kraushaar says OrePac Building Products, which resides along Boones Ferry Road to the North of 5th Street, is planning to expand its facilities. She also said the area west of Kinsman Road that used to be a hazelnut orchard will likely be developed at some point. The land to the west of Kinsman Road is primarily residential and the land to the east is primarily industrial. No development plans for either area have been approved.
"It's (developing the area where the orchard used to be) in our comprehensive plan. If that were to be developed that road would be constructed, which would be great from my perspective," Kraushaar said.
John Holmes lives near the intersection of Boones Ferry Road and 5th Street and is not excited to wait behind even more cars along Boones Ferry Road.
"I don't see it as providing a benefit for me. I'm a retired man in a residential community. We don't want
more traffic. We want less traffic," he said.
However, he's neutral toward the project overall because he said it could benefit other Wilsonville residents who don't live near the extension.
"They say some people want to get on board and then pull up the ladder. I don't believe in that," Holmes said.
Van Wechel would have preferred the extension to go down Bailey Road — which is farther down Boones Ferry — rather than 5th Street but said the City had made up its mind very early on that 5th Street was its preferred route.
"It was very obvious by the second or third meeting that the city had already decided which option they would take," Van Wechel said. "It didn't matter what the neighbors said. It makes it look kind of like a sham."
She also believed that Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp, who owns commercial properties along 5th Street in Old Town, and other businesses with interests in the area steered the project toward 5th Street.
"Everybody who lives in Old Town wanted it to go across at Bailey because that would make it a straight stretch but the people that own that property have a lot of clout," she said. "The Mayor has property down at 5th Street so obviously he doesn't want it to go across at Bailey because he has businesses down there."
However, Van Wechel said City staff has done a good job considering Old Town's concerns, including mitigating interference with the historic buildings near the 5th Street and Boones Ferry Road intersection.
Tom Bernert owns acres of property near the proposed extension and is not excited for traffic to disturb his peace.
"I just like my privacy back there. I haven't had any neighbors for years," Bernert said. "It's gonna happen so I can't change it."