Two major Oregon Department of Transportation projects in Hillsboro — designed to make major roadway safety improvements along short portions of Baseline Street in downtown Hillsboro and Tualatin Valley Highway east of the city — will soon kick off.
Next week, ODOT crews will begin construction along First Avenue at Oak Street and Baseline Street, with plans to install new traffic signals and signs, improve street lighting and upgrade curb ramps for people with disabilities.
"Improving signs reduces crashes, particularly side-swipe collisions, by making it clearer to drivers which lane to be in," ODOT stated on its website, explaining its plans for the new signals in downtown Hillsboro. "Pedestrian countdown timers help pedestrians make better decisions about how much time is left to cross the road, reducing their chances for unsafe crossings."
According to ODOT statistics, 130 total crashes were reported at the two intersections from 2012-2016 (52 at First Avenue and Baseline; 74 at First Avenue and Oak Street). None of them were fatal.
While the improvements are expected to make things better in the long-term, there will be some delays in the interim in the form of both daytime single-lane closures and nighttime two-lane closures.
Some full road closures are expected to last as long as 20 minutes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to ODOT plans.
The project is expected to be completed this summer.
Refer to the News-Times' story Nov. 25, 2019, on a fatal crash at the intersection of First Avenue and Baseline Street in Hillsboro, one of the intersections that state transportation planners will upgrade starting this month.
Oak Street is a one-way road heading eastbound. Baseline Street is a one-way road that takes motorists westbound.
Baseline Street and First Avenue are state highways, designated as Oregon Highway 8 and Oregon Highway 219, respectively. The latter is also signed in places as Tualatin Valley Highway.
Meanwhile, plans are to add a new southbound left-turn lane at the First Avenue and Oak Street intersection.
"There is currently not a dedicated left turn lane or signal at this intersection," said Lou Torres, an ODOT spokesperson. "Drivers can turn left onto Oak from First Avenue, but have to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before they do."
In March, the state highway department will begin upgrading crosswalks and intersection along Tualatin Valley Highway between Southeast 44th and 45th avenues. The construction will add bus stops, curb ramps, lighting and signs, Torres said. Plans are to replace the current overhead signs at those crosswalks with pedestrian-activated flashing lights at the crosswalks in both directions.
At the same time, flashing lights will be installed about 200 feet before the pedestrian-activated beacons in order to warn drivers that the pedestrian crossing lights have been activated.
ODOT officials are also adding improved lighting at the 44th and 45th avenue intersections with hopes of reducing the number of nighttime accidents.
The downtown Hillsboro and Tualatin Valley Highway projects will cost a combined $2.1 million.
By Ray Pitz
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