{img:127204}The Tualatin area is in line for critical transportation funding after Washington County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a five-year plan to spend $175 million, most of which will go toward roadwork.

Major road projects selected for funding under to 23 road projects include the long-awaited expansion of Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road to five lanes, along with bike lanes and sidewalks, between Southwest Teton Avenue and Langer Farms Parkway, as well as the extension of Basalt Creek Parkway, a road being built in a development area south of Tualatin that has been designated as the future jurisdictional boundary between Tualatin and Wilsonville, from Southwest Grahams Ferry Road east to Boones Ferry Road.

The adopted plan represents the latest round of projects funded by property taxes dating back to 1986.

The plan received more than 1,300 comments from an online open house and three in-person open houses earlier this year.

“I continue to be impressed with the process, the collaborative nature of how we develop these projects and how we come to a consensus on what is really important in this county,” said Commissioner Andy Duyck, who chairs the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

The round of funding, officially called the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) Phase 3e, will last from 2018 to 2023.

The current phase of Basalt Creek Parkway should be finished by the time the funding plan takes effect. The five-lane road is being constructed as part of the extension of Southwest 124th Avenue, which will open up land in between Tualatin, Sherwood and Wilsonville for industrial and residential development. It is expected to open to traffic in September.

Under the adopted plan, MSTIP would provide funding either for right-of-way acquisition and final design for the extension of Basalt Creek Parkway or to match construction funding from another source.

Earlier phases of MSTIP set aside funding for the expansion of Tualatin-Sherwood and Roy Rogers roads in Sherwood, although the project is currently on hold due to a land use dispute, according to the county website. The plan states the Teton Avenue to Langer Farms Parkway project “would complement” that funding.

Tualatin-Sherwood Road is frequently choked with a mixture of car and truck traffic, especially during peak commute times. The road narrows to one lane in each direction west of Teton Avenue, and backups are common.

Another project selected for funding was the installation of a traffic signal at Southwest Bonita Road and Sequoia Parkway in Tigard, just west of Interstate 5.

Most of the money in the plan, $160 million, will go to 23 road projects — also benefiting bicyclists, pedestrians and transit — distributed among the four commissioners' districts. That list includes the Basalt Creek Parkway, Tualatin-Sherwood Road and Bonita Road projects. It was whittled down from an initial list of 34 projects totaling $240 million.

“Projects selected for funding must improve safety and traffic flow on major roads and address demands for vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and/or transit,” said Andrew Singelakis, county director of land use and transportation.

The other $15 million will be spent as follows:

• $7.5 million available to match grants with other local, state and federal transportation funds.

• $7 million for replacement of rural bridges. County officials say, however, there is a backlog of bridge work amounting to $120 million, and that 81 of 184 county-maintained bridges are rated as deficient.

• $500,000 for traffic signals, driver information signs and management of traffic-lane use under the category of “intelligent transportation systems.”

MSTIP was funded originally through a series of property tax levies in 1986, 1989 and 1991.

Although voter-approved changes in Oregon property taxes 20 years ago rolled those levies into a single amount for county government, commissioners have continued to honor the program’s original intent by setting aside a portion of property taxes for such improvements.

Including the latest round, the program has set aside $900 million for 150 projects since it began 30 years ago.

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