City untangling Willamette Falls, I-205, Highways 99, 43
Facing the difficult task of improving the traffic situation in an area where four major roads — Highway 43, Interstate 205, Willamette Falls Drive and Highway 99 — converge near the narrow Old Oregon City-West Linn Arch Bridge, the City of West Linn's transportation plan had four objectives: easing congestion, discouraging through traffic on Willamette Falls Drive, increasing traffic capacity to accommodate redevelopment and conforming to a concurrent Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) planning project for the widening of I-205.
The most noteworthy pieces of the realignment are two new traffic circles — one adjacent to the I-205 north ramp from southbound Willamette Drive/Highway 43 and the other at the intersection of Willamette Drive, Willamette Falls Drive and Broadway Street next to the Arch Bridge.
"The public basically created this option here," consultant John Morgan said, referring to prior open houses during which multiple attendees suggested the use of two traffic circles instead of the single one previously proposed.
Willamette Falls Drive would also be re-configured, splitting off in two different directions at a new signaled intersection on Sunset Avenue. Driving east from the Willamette area toward the Arch Bridge, cars would either go left and stay on Willamette Falls Drive or continue straight down a new street that would run adjacent to the West Linn Paper Company mill site before turning off onto the Arch Bridge.
"From an engineering standpoint, (the traffic plan) makes sense, from a traffic flow standpoint it makes sense," Morgan said. "We think it finally gives us an opening to really look at redevelopment of the site."
Morgan said the hope was for the council to sign off on this "conceptual design," which would allow staff to begin work on amending the City's Transportation Systems Plan (TSP) while also coordinating with ODOT and looking into how the project would be financed.
"I use 'conceptual' very specifically because we haven't sat down with PGE and landowners around the property," Morgan said. "Details like (road) width, access points, those types of things — we're not going to address those tonight."
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