Public hearing for document supporting Comprehensive Plan Amendment get go ahead from council

Even though there weren't any public responses to the hearing for the Transportation System Master Plan at the Sept. 26 Molalla City Council meeting, but council members did have some questions regarding the plan. The plan is designed to determine the current state of Molalla's transportation system and plans for future needs through 2038.

However, there were few concerns and those were taken care of quickly allowing the council members to adopt the plan and its ordinance.

PIONEER PHOTO: CAROL ROSEN - The City council notes Public Works Director Gerald Fisher's  explanation of the Transportation System Master Plan.

The system's objectives include developing a balanced and connected multimodal transportation system including an increase in conventional and safe bicycle and pedestrian access to important destinations. These must preserve and enhance state highways, country roadways and city streets while reducing emissions by minimizing miles traveled. The system also has to comply with state policies, plans, standards and requirements and provide planning level cost estimates.

In July 2017, Oregon's Department of Transportation (ODOT) signed a contract with Kittelson and Associates, Inc. (KAI) for consulting services toward preparation of a comprehensive master plan for Molalla. KAI worked with city staff, a technical advisory committee and a project advisory committee developing a draft Transportation System Plan. In the plan, there's a capital improvement plan listing each project, its priority and probable cost. The total estimated cost in 2018 dollars is $99.13 million.

The current TSP was adopted in 2001. Since that time Molalla has grown significantly. The new plan is much more detailed and more up to date. It adds to the comprehensive plan through an up-to-date inventory and framework for system improvements. In addition it complies with the Oregon Transportation Plan, the state's transportation planning rule and the Oregon Highway Plan. It presents the investments and priorities for pedestrian, bicycle, transit, cars and other transportation systems and has been reviewed and approved by ODOT.

Once the top priorities have been solved, typically about five years, the next in line are researched and become top priorities. If some project that isn't on the list is more important, it's researched and put forward. This way it doesn't take 18 years to follow through on priority transportation needs. When priority projects are finished, then we need to stop and redo the master plan, Public Works Director Gerald Fisher said. "There may be new high priorities to fix and redo."

The time for questions for the public hearing came and went when no one answered the call. Then discussion began with council members. Jody Newland asked where funding would come from. Fisher explained his next step was to determine where the funding is and whether the sources would be federal, state, local or through developers.

"It depends on grants, etc. I can't guarantee where it will come from right now. It might be a federal grant," Fisher said.

Mayor Jimmy Thompson expressed concerns about Molalla Forest Road and the amount to of money needed to turn that into a truck route. But Fisher told him the road is not considered anywhere near a priority and that it would be unlikely the city will get to it in the next 20 years.

"The only way for Molalla Forest Road would get moved up [in priority] would be if development occurred in the area. No development is expected in that area in the next 20 years," Fisher said.

Public Works staff already has begun working on the first five years of the plan, Fisher said.

Council members then voted for the new plan. Since the first vote was unanimous, they voted a second time, which also was unanimous. They then adopted the TSP by a unanimous vote and later in the meeting by ordinance.

Carol Rosen
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