Councilors unhappy with rising cost of Canyon Road work
Dissatisfied Beaverton city councilors asked city engineers to rework plans for Canyon Road improvements, the original features of which will cost more than twice as much as planned as decade ago.
The "streetscape" project is proposed jointly with the Oregon Department of Transportation, which maintains Canyon Road as Highway 8, between Southwest Hocken Avenue and Short Street. ODOT already plans new traffic signals and other work at seven Beaverton intersections — all east of the "streetscape" stretch — in 2021 at a cost of $2.14 million.
The original project was part of the Beaverton Community Vision plan adopted in 2010. It called for signal upgrades at Hocken Avenue and Cedar Hills Boulevard, a left-turn lane eastbound at Cedar Hills Boulevard, wider sidewalks, 44 street trees, landscaped medians between Cedar Hills Boulevard and Short Street, and a pedestrian crossing with a flashing beacon at Rose Biggi Avenue. (BG's Food Cartel, home to more than two dozen food carts, is to the north.)
But city public works staff told the City Council at a Feb. 4 work session that the price tag has ballooned from $5.65 million to $11.7 million. A December 2019 estimate put it at $11.2 million. Officials attributed the increases to rising costs of land acquisition and construction.
A slimmed-down alternative proposes only the upgrading of Canyon Road intersections at Hocken Avenue and Cedar Hills Boulevard, including new signals, at an estimated cost of $6.85 million.
But the City Council was told that Beaverton then would lose $3.5 million set aside for it by Metro, the regional planning agency, from flexible federal transportation funds. The slimmed-down project would have few benefits for pedestrians.
When city public works staff said that version of the project would not increase traffic capacity or result in improved traffic flow, Councilor Laura Mitchell questioned whether the city should proceed to spend millions just for that work.
The council consensus was to direct the staff to come up with an alternative that combines elements of the original project: New signals at the two intersections, a left-turn lane at Cedar Hills Boulevard, and wider sidewalks. A preliminary estimate pegs that cost at $9.3 million; officials said the city may be able to secure more money from ODOT and proceeds from the city's transportation development tax.
The flashing beacon at Rose Biggi Avenue, which would be activated by pedestrians crossing Canyon Road, is priced at $524,630 if done with other work described above. It would cost more as a stand-alone project.
Although sidewalks on that stretch of Canyon Road are proposed to be widened from 4 to 9 feet, several councilors said there would be no net gain for pedestrians if there are street trees, whose metal grates take up about 4 feet.
Councilor Marc San Soucie suggested that proposed redevelopment along the north side of Canyon Road between Rose Biggi Avenue and Short Street could generate more money for street improvements. The Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency now has agreements with firms to come up with plans for the future of Beaverton Central-2 — a 2-acre site, partly fronting on Canyon Road, just east of BG's Food Cartel — and Beaverdam West at the southwest corner of Rose Biggi Avenue and Millikan Way.
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