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The city hopes to take over three miles of roadway in effort to control and create future streetscape design.

PMG FILE PHOTO - If all goes as planned, the city of Tigard will take over three miles of Hall Boulevard from the Oregon Department of Transportation, a move that will allow for more control of how the road will look and be maintained in the future.Tigard and the Oregon Department of Transportation are in the process of negotiating a jurisdictional transfer of three miles of Hall Boulevard that stretch through town in an effort to give the city a wider range of planning opportunities, including future designs for the highway.

At issue is turning over the operations and maintenance for that portion of roadway — officially known as Oregon State Highway 141 — from ODOT to the city.

Officials say the stretch of roadway the city is interested in runs between the southern end of Southwest Durham Road to the northern side of Southwest Hall Boulevard at its intersection with Locust Street.

In addition to giving Tigard more control over what happens on Hall Boulevard, the city would also be responsible for maintaining the stormwater systems and bridges along those three miles of the highway.

"Benefits of Tigard ownership include the ability to plan for a future urban streetscape design that better meets the needs of local Tigard residents," Dave Roth, a Tigard senior transportation planner, wrote in an email. "Tigard ownership would also mean that the city would manage the ongoing maintenance needs and scheduled maintenance of the roadway."

The action comes at the same time that Rep. Dacia Grayber, who represents Oregon House District 35, and other legislators are working on bills that make it easier for cities or counties to take over portions of state highways.

One is House Bill 2515, a bill that specifically addresses a transfer of portions of Oregon State Highway 141 through Tigard.

"That came out of a meeting I had with the mayor," said Grayber. "It's been something that's been on the city of Tigard's radar for a while, about having local autonomous control over that instead of being a whim of ODOT."

Part of her goal with the proposed legislation is to ensure that Tigard doesn't get stuck with a massive bill to bring the roadway up to what is called a state of "good repair," a prerequisite before a transfer can occur.

While Grayber believes ODOT already has the authority to initiate the transfer of the state highway without legislation, HB 2515 is a placeholder to make sure that happens, she said.

Still, there's an even more wide-ranging bill Grayber and other legislators are supportive of to address concerns over so-called "orphan highways" owned by the state that run through Oregon cities. House Bill 2744 is designed to make the transfer of those roadways easier without decimating city coffers at the same time.

Grayer and Rep. Khanh Pham, who represents Portland's House District 46, are chief sponsors of the bill that more broadly addresses transferring jurisdiction of state highways and establishes a specific jurisdictional transfer fund to pay costs to upgrade and transfer those roadways.

"It directs the director of transportation to require regions to conduct jurisdictional transfer evaluation that will identify and prioritize the highways for this transfer," said Grayber. "Our priority is to push through HB 2744 and to do the study for it."

She said a big piece of that is developing a cost estimate procedure and assessing the readiness of a city or county to receive a transfer with a specific funding source tied to it that's separate from the state's general fund. That money would be used to pay costs for the state to make the highway upgrades before transferring them to local cities and counties.

Still, Grayber is hoping that ODOT and Tigard can work out the transfer without legislation, saying that bill would require something of a fight but that there seems to be broad bipartisan interest in it.

"That bill is currently in the transportation committee," she said Feb. 4. "It is not scheduled for a hearing yet."

As far as the transfer of those three miles of Hall Boulevard is concerned, discussions between ODOT and the city are continuing, according to state officials.

"There is no set timeline, but should we reach agreement on terms, the process can move fairly quickly," said Don Hamilton, an ODOT spokesman.

Hamilton said ODOT is also in early discussions with Washington County officials for a similar jurisdictional transfer of the northern segment of Hall Boulevard from Locust Street to Highway 217.

Although no legislation has yet been introduced, Grayber — who said her use of public transportation and the fact she often rides her bike along area roads gives her a first-hand experience of transportation issues — also is supportive of pushing forward a Highway 99W study.

Local mayors and staff of cities the roadway runs through have been pushing for several years to have the state complete a comprehensive corridor plan undertaken for a roadway that handles not only motorists but large volumes of commercial freight as well.

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