Ambitious Elliott Road project slated to begin in Newberg
Elliott Road, one of Newberg's most crucial routes, will see some significant changes in the coming months.
The road, which connects the north and south parts of Newberg and intersects with Highway 99W, leads to Newberg High School (NHS), Mabel Rush Elementary, Chehalem Aquatic Fitness Center and many churches, houses, businesses and recreational facilities.
Basically, Elliott Road is a citywide transportation network. And it's needed heavy renovations for many years, city officials say.
According to the city's website, the 2016 Transportation System Plan indicates that the section of North Elliott Road between the highway and NHS should be reconstructed to meet full, major collector street standards, which require bike lanes and ADA-compliant sidewalks on both sides of the street.
Paul Chiu, city engineer and the project's manager, noted how dangerous the street currently is for pedestrians and bicyclists.
"It's not safe to walk along a street such as North Elliott Road without connecting sidewalks or no sidewalk in some areas, or bike without bike lanes," Chiu said in an email. "Elliott Road is (being) improved for safety, for pedestrians, for bicyclists, for motorists, for motor bikers to get to work, see their friends and families and enjoy a higher standard of living in Newberg."
However, the project will expand beyond simply reconstructing the road and adding bike lanes and sidewalks.
Among the many other upgrades will be new LED streetlights to increase visibility after dark, a full stormwater system to eliminate flooding, replacing old cast iron water lines with ductile iron to improve seismic resiliency and rehabilitating current wastewater pipelines to decrease inflow and infiltration for wastewater treatment.
The contractor on the project, Saunders Co., expects to complete the project by November 2023. The renovations will cost just over $5.8 million, paid for through various city funds, such as transportation/gas tax, storm, water and wastewater.
The construction crew will begin the work with upgrades to a stormwater quality facility at the northeast area of North Elliott and East Haworth Avenue. After that, they will install a variety of utilities, moving north to south toward the Highway 99W intersection.
Traffic will be impacted and delayed, but detours and pedestrian pathways will be made clear. Residents will receive advanced notice for temporary interruptions in services, such as water, wastewater, electricity or telecommunications.
"(A) majority of the neighborhood residents favor this project," Chiu said. "Improvements have been redesigned to address many valuable comments from residents and stakeholders."
Not everyone was initially on board with the project, however.
In the beginning, some people expressed concern that the renovations might encroach on private property.
Chiu said that will not happen as the city has "worked very hard with various property owners" to acquire the necessary rights-of-ways and easements to complete the project.
Another major concern was that the road's new design would eliminate street parking, due to the lack of the gravel shoulders people often used for that purpose.
Chiu acknowledged this particular concern was a consequence of the new renovations, as major collector standards do not permit parking on either side of the road.
"To have more parking, we have to get more right-of-ways," Chiu said, which would require residents along the road to give up more of their property.
"You can't say, 'I like to have (street parking), but I also like to keep my front yard," Chiu said. "It doesn't work that way."
Chiu said it took a while to fully explain the situation to residents and gain their trust, but now his team has "come to a part that we are about to move forward with this project. I appreciate a lot of people helping out, whether it be from the city side or the residents … It's not something easy that's happening and takes a lot of effort, from the individual to the council."
He added that while "it's difficult to get everybody 100% to agree on everything," he appreciates different perspectives and his team has tried its best to make reasonable accommodations. "It's not easy, but I'm looking forward to a better community infrastructure."
Saunders Co. hosted a meet-and-greet on July 21 at the Newberg Church of Christ to inform neighboring property owners, tenants and residents about the upcoming construction plans. Future meetings will be held as construction progresses.
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