Robinwood residents frustrated with Highway 43 improvement process
With planned improvements for Highway 43 finally beginning to inch forward after several years of delays and discussions between the city of West Linn and the Oregon Department of Transportation, residents of the Robinwood neighborhood are pushing back.
While the city and ODOT initially planned to improve most of the highway between the former Marylhurst University property and I-205, rising costs and limited funds forced the agencies to reduce the project scope.
Now, West Linn is focusing on reworking the intersections at Cedaroak Drive and Hidden Springs Road near Walmart.
The agencies will remove the traffic light at Cedaroak Drive and extend Old River Road so that it meets the highway. The Old River Road extension would continue into Hidden Springs Road on the other side of Highway 43. A stop sign would be placed on Cedaroak Drive at the highway. Only right turns onto the highway from Cedaroak would be allowed.
Currently, the city plans for its work on Old River Road to take place between 2023 and 2024, while ODOT intends to conduct its work on the highway between 2024 and 2025. However, the city noted this timeline is subject to change.
At meetings in October and November, members of the Robinwood Neighborhood Association expressed frustration with the process. Neighbors feel the city and ODOT have neglected to include them in planning discussions.
"Scrap any idea you have, start from scratch and include the neighborhood, because we are the most impacted by your decisions," one resident said to Luke Borland, West Linn's public works community relations specialist, at the most recent neighborhood meeting Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Borland explained that the project is based on the city's 2016 Transportation System Plan and 2016 Highway 43 Concept Plan, and funding already has been allocated.
While both of those plans incorporated public involvement, neighborhood association secretary Kevin Bryck contended that community members may have gone along with the designs because they didn't believe the city would ever act on them. Bryck also pointed out that the Highway 43 project included improvements like sidewalks and bike lanes for the entire stretch of the corridor. He argued residents may have felt differently if they'd known only a few pieces of the plan would be completed.
While ODOT and the city have said safety is the biggest issue currently at the Cedaroak and Hidden Springs intersections, neighbors argued that simpler solutions like reducing the speed limit and adding signage could better fit the area. According to the city, the back-to-back stoplights at Cedaroak and Hidden Springs make it the most accident-prone site in the city.
Bryck, for his party said one of the neighborhood's biggest concerns is the planned four-way stop at Old River Road and Cedaroak Drive. He believed that the four-way stop would lead to large backups of parents and school buses going to and from Cedaroak Park Primary School, as well as trucks and boats going to and from the Cedaroak Boat Ramp. He predicted that the backups would make it difficult for Robinwood residents to get into and out of the neighborhood.
City officials plan to return to the Robinwood neighborhood to answer questions and further explain the plans at a meeting in January.
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