Tualatin correct to focus bond projects on streets
An editor of The Times once sat own with Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden and asked: What are the top three concerns of city residents? "Simple," replied the mayor, "traffic, traffic and traffic."
It was an exaggeration but not much of one.
Achingly slow commutes and safe streets are top of mind for Tualatin residents. And in May, the city will ask voters to pass a bond measure to address these concerns.
We urge a "yes" vote.
Measure 34-282 is a $20 million general obligation bond measure to address improvements with new traffic signals and travel lanes on Tualatin-Sherwood Road, Sagert, Martinazzi, Tualatin Road, Myslony and other major streets, according to the city website. Safety improvements would include new pedestrian crossings with signals, crosswalks, sidewalks and signs that display speed in downtown and along Boones Ferry, the Garden Corner Curves at Southwest 105th and Blake, Sagert, Highway 99W and Grahams Ferry.
If the measure passes, these projects could begin in 2018 and would be completed within three to five years.
If successful, the bond would cost 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That comes out to about $150 per year for a home assessed at $300,000.
We would be in favor of investing in improvements of these streets, even if the population of Washington County stopped growing. But of course it hasn't. And at least one estimate suggests the county will see an estimated increase of 300,000 residents, atop the existing 570,000, within the next few decades. Tualatin will take its share of that growth, and people from areas surrounding Tualatin share our roads.
So investing in improvements for the streets makes good economic sense and addresses the top livability concerns of area residents.
The timing also is right because the 2017 Legislature passed a historic, bipartisan 10-year transportation package that includes $22 million for design work on The Newberg-Dundee Bypass and Highway 99W; $44 million for Highway 217 southbound through Beaverton; $54 million for Highway 217 northbound in the same area; $678,000 in transportation funding for Tualatin; $13 million for Washington County; and $10 million per year for a statewide program called Safe Routes to Schools, which provides funds for crosswalks, lights, sidewalks and other investments to make school zones safer (that investment increases to $15 million per year by 2023).
After years of not addressing these issues (and finally coming to realize that the federal government is never going to do so), the state has made transportation a priority for the coming decade. If Tualatin passes its bond, there will opportunities for the state and city projects to reinforce and supplement each other.
The timing is right. The focus of the project is right.
The deadline to vote is Tuesday, May 15, and ballots should be distributed around the first of the month. We urge an "aye" vote.