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Section of thoroughfare will be closed until fall for $2.8 million rebuilding effort

SUSAN BRANNON - Work on Villa Road will continue through Aug. 31 and city officials say the project will enhance the thoroughfares for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Villa Road will be closed to traffic between Haworth Avenue and Park Lane throughout the summer as rehabilitation work continues until Aug. 31. Travelers will be detoured to Meridian Street and other thoroughfares to avoid the construction.

Phase 1 of the project was completed in August 2015, making way for Phase 2 to install bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides, among other things.

The changes will be noticeable to those familiar with the old Villa Road. The entire road will be realigned near the trestle between Carol Avenue and Carol Ann Drive to increase visibility and make that area safer.

"There (are) both vertical and horizontal changes, the road will not be the way that it is today when we are done," city engineer and project manager Kaaren Hofmann said. "The curves are being softened, the dip will not have a deep grade. We are completely re-building the road."

The utilities will be relocated because contractors must remove the poles when they move the road.

"We don't allow for additional overhead utilities, they will now be underground," Hofmann said.

Currently, Villa Road has a limited bike lane with an existing shoulder on a portion of the northbound direction, but will feature 3,200 feet of continuous sidewalk for safer traveling after this round of construction.

The lack of driver visibility and safety has been a concern for some time because of the steep curve and lack of pedestrian sidewalks.

City documents dating from October 2013 indicate that the city and George Fox University had both spoken with property owners in the area to purchase the land needed, but without success. Finally in September 2015, a council resolution passed about the possibility of acquiring the right-of-way through the area. The city purchased the right-of-way and shared expenses for easements with new apartments that are going in on Villa Road and Park lane. This was needed to finally build the sidewalks and bike lanes and make that area safer for all traffic to be enjoyed after August.

"I'm excited for the enhanced safety for both the vehicles and the pedestrians and bicyclists in the area," Hofmann said.

The ancient oak trees that were removed to make way for the new road are drying at the city's public maintenance yard for re-use.

The project along Hess Creek will add more vegetation along the stream to help filter the water before it reaches the river. Added vegetation will help prevent pollution, erosion, soil loss and wildlife habitat loss. Runoff water is also warmer from the heat of the asphalt and is not good for the habitat, but the landscaping will help cool down the water before it arrives to the creek.

Protecting the native fish species is another reason the project is environmentally friendly. The culvert that was placed in Phase 1 was designed to mirror the condition of the stream bed and act as a fish passage.

To beautify Villa Road, the plan is to add new landscaping that will include oak, ash, alder, willow and cedar trees, as well as more than 3,000 shrubs and ground covering plants along the repaired road and the creek.

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