Sherwood urges Metro to make Highway 99W a top priority
(This story has been updated to reflect vehicle trips and highway renovation priority given to Tualatin Valley Highway.)
Sherwood officials are leading the charge to make sure that Highway 99W gets the attention it deserves as a highly-traveled corridor that deserves not only a comprehensive study but also a higher ranking on a list of projects that need improvements.
On Oct. 15, the Sherwood City Council signed an intergovernmental agreement with the cities of Tigard, Tualatin and King City, pushing for a study of the Highway 99W corridor that sees 48,000 vehicles move through it each day.
That resolution includes pitching in $5,000 toward the estimated $32,000 costs that the City of Tigard will incur to hire a consultant to push for funding from the Oregon Legislature to conduct a comprehensive study of the Highway 99W corridor between those four cities. CFM Strategic Communications has been hired to seek that study funding.
Sherwood City Council member Tim Rosener said Sherwood was the first to approach the other cities about advocating for Highway 99W study funding as Metro puts together its 2020 transportation bond.
Rosener said Metro has listed Highway 99W as only being minimally congested. That drops it from a top Tier 1 ranking to Tier 2, which means it's less likely to receive funding from the proposed Metro bond and places it behind higher-ranking projects for future Oregon Department of Transporation improvements. (That Metro bond will also ask for funding of the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project, whose plans are to build a rail line from downtown Portland to Tualatin's Bridgeport Village.)
By comparison, Highway 8, also known as Tualatin Valley Highway, earned a Tier 1 ranking.
"Congestion relief and safety improvements for 99W is critical for the future of Sherwood and Southeast Washington County," Rosener wrote in an email. "99W has one of only two high capacity bridges that cross the Tualatin River."
Rosener also pointed out that starting with the next school year, there will be two schools with capacity for an estimated 4,000 students (both the new Sherwood High School and what will soon be the old Sherwood High School transformed into a middle school), which will be within 500 feet of Highway 99W with the city concerned about safety issues. One of those is the new Sherwood High School
"Solving … congestion, connecting our trail systems, and providing safe passage for our students crossing 99W is critical to the future of Sherwood and the wider region," wrote Rosener. "Metro and the State have a responsibility to partner on these challenges and fund solutions."
Dave Roth, a Tigard senior transportation planner, told the Tigard City Council in September that Metro looked at 75 corridors and whittled that number down to a smaller number before ranking them. That Tier 2 ranking "kind of raised the ire" of local officials and their staffs, Roth noted.
In August, Tualatin officials expressed concerns about Metro's ranking of Highway 99W, and on Sept. 18, Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik presented Metro's Transportation 2020 Task Force with written comments about Highway 99W.
"I am reiterating my request from last month that funding for Highway 99W, identified as a Tier II corridor, be included through region wide programs," Bubenik wrote.
Tualatin voters approved a $20 million transportation bond package in 2018. Bubenik said that proves residents are tired of congestion on arterials and are willing to pay to fix the problems.
Bubenik said a comprehensive corridor plan for Highway 99W needs to be similar in scope to the one conducted for Tualatin Valley Highway. That roadway, which sees 35,000 to 40,000 cars travel along it each day, is listed as a Tier I corridor and Metro has included money for renovations to the roadway in a proposed transportation package epected to b sent to voters in 2020.
He also asked Metro to rank Highway 217 and Tualatin-Sherwood Road as Tier 1 corridors as well.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.