Sherwood seeks funding for Highway 99W pedestrian bridge
(This version of the story clarifies where the pederstrian bridge would end.)
If enough funding is found, the City of Sherwood hopes to build a pedestrian bridge that would cross Highway 99W near Sunset Boulevard and extend over to the new Sherwood High School.
"We have a preliminary preferred location," Sherwood City Manager Joe Gall said recently, noting that the proposed location would run from the south end of the Sherwood Family YMCA before crossing Highway 99W and extending over a new roundabout on Elwert Road. It would end up on property adjacent to the new Sherwood High School.
Gall said a proposed prefabricated construction design calls for a 630-foot-span bridge to be built in three separate sections over the highway.
So far, Rep. Courtney Neron has been successful in securing $2 million in lottery funds during the most recent Oregon Legislative session to help defray costs of what is being referred to as the Sherwood Pedestrian Project.
On Jan. 13, both Neron, a Wilsonville Democrat who represents a vast district that includes Sherwood, and Sherwood City Council President Tim Rosener, testified before the Oregon Legislature's Joint Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development.
"As soon as I learned of the effort to build a pedestrian crossing for students to safety cross Highway 99 in Sherwood, I knew I wanted to be involved and support it in my role as a legislator," Neron told the subcommittee. "In Sherwood we have the potential for high schoolers to be vulnerable road-users, crossing six lanes of traffic as they rush to school after missing a bus or as they rush to swim practice at the (YMCA) pool located on the opposite side of the highway from the high school."
Neron, who has been working with ODOT on the proposal, said factors such as frequent speeding and the high volume of traffic along the Highway 99W corridor all add up to create a "recipe for disaster" for anyone trying to cross the busy highway.
"This pedestrian connector project is the top priority for the city of Sherwood and a top priority for student safety in my district," Neron continued. "I will be asking the Legislature for an additional $6.5 million. While that may seem like a lot now when compared to the priceless lives of the students who will be crossing each day, it is worth it."
She told fellow legislators that the city has one of the highest rates of children per household in Oregon.
Meanwhile, Rosener explained the importance of a bridge to ensure the safety of the more than 2,000 students who will attend the high school when it opens in September.
"The majority of our students -- 60% -- live on the opposite side of Highway 99," Rosener explained. "Between October 2018 and Nov. 2019, 21,964 drivers either ran a red light or exceeded the posted speed limit by 11 mph at that intersection."
ODOT originally estimated $16 to 20 million for this bridge but by going to design-build process down to $9.5 million to $11.5 million, according to city officials.
Rosener said Sherwood is working with Metro and county to look at funding options as well.
In addition, the city has undertaken a survey to determine voter interest regarding a possible bond measure to expand the Sherwood Family YMCA that will include a question about whether residents would be in favor of helping to fund a portion of the pedestrian bridge.
At the Jan. 13 meeting, an Oregon Department of Transportation representative told legislators that the state agency was working with Washington County to make improvements to the intersection of Highway 99W and Sunset Boulevard.
Although not at the legislative meeting, Sherwood Mayor Keith Mays said he's supportive of the pedestrian bridge as well.
"For me, safety means law enforcement, safety education and all forms of transportation. When we see a clear risk … we must work to address it," he wrote in an email. "I believe that the pedestrian bridge … is such a project."
Mays said the bridge could be built by the city faster and at a lower cost than if it was built by the state.
Meanwhile, the mayor also said he's supportive of building a future pedestrian tunnel under Highway 99W, just north of Meinecke Road to connect the Cedar Creek Trail system, which will run from Old Town Sherwood to the back side of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.
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