Plans are to have a new road, Basalt Creek Parkway, completed in the spring.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Project manager Renus Kelfkens stands on ground leveled to make way for road construction in between Sherwood, Tualatin and Wilsonville.While those construction waits along Southwest Tonquin Road may prove a little frustrating at times, work at revamping a portion of the road in anticipation of connecting Southwest 124th Avenue from Tualatin-Sherwood to Tonquin roads is proceeding at a steady clip.

Already visible is 124th Avenue coming into Tonquin from the north, which will create a new intersection about one-quarter mile east of Southwest Morgan Road.

And soon, installation of the first section of the Willamette Water Supply Program’s new water transmission line will be installed under the same roadways as part of infrastructure that will provide for the future water needs of the city of Hillsboro.

Once completed, 124th Avenue will stretch approximately 1.5 miles from Tualatin-Sherwood to Tonquin roads.

Renus Kelfkens, a project manager with the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation, said the road project, which is being done by Kerr Contractors, is coming along nicely.

“We started in April,” he said. “The project has been really good. The contractor has been good to work with. (Tualatin Valley Water District), they’ve been an excellent collaborator.”

And the weather has cooperated as well, putting the project ahead of schedule.

Once 124th Avenue reaches Tonquin Road, it will cross south through the intersection where it becomes Basalt Creek Parkway. The new road, one-quarter of which is already paved, quickly takes a slight curve and crosses a new railroad bridge before running parallel to Tonquin Road for about one-seventh of a mile, where it connects to Southwest Grahams Ferry Road, said Kelfkens.

Well under construction is the 120-foot-long railway bridge, which raises the roadbed 40 feet on both sides of the tracks, Kelfkens pointed out during on a recent tour. Portland & Western Railroad owns those tracks, which carry TriMet’s WES commuter rail.

“We’ll flatten the curves at the railroad (tracks) on either side,” said Kelfkens. “So it will improve the distance crossing the railroad (tracks).”

The Basalt Creek Parkway project included the removal of three homes — two of which were purchased outright by the county and one through the condemnation process.

At some point, Tonquin Road will be shut down temporarily so the water pipeline can be installed, said Kelfkens. That will mean a detour, which will route traffic along Basalt Creek Parkway from the 124th intersection to Grahams Ferry Road.

While completion of the entire project is still two years off (winter of 2018), Basalt Creek Parkway will be completed in early spring.

Ultimately, Basalt Creek Parkway will become the new arterial roadway, a road designed to handle higher capacity traffic, which will relegate Tonquin to collector status, meaning it will handle low-to-moderate traffic.

Also, future annexations will make Basalt Creek Parkway the dividing line separating Tualatin from Wilsonville, said Kelfkens.

For the city of Sherwood, the 124th Avenue extension means not only a possible shortcut for motorists heading into town but also a connection to the Tonquin Employment Area, 300 acres of property set aside for small to mid-size manufacturers. The area could create up to 3,000 jobs, according to Sherwood officials.

Meanwhile, the Willamette Water Supply Program is about to begin work on installing water pipes under the 124th Avenue and Tonquin Road right-of-way.

All of that is part of a 30-mile pipeline to provide Hillsboro with future drinking water that will be transmitted from the Willamette River at Wilsonville. Plans are to begin laying pipe underneath 124th Avenue in October, according to Marlys Mock, media and community relations coordinator for the Willamette Water Supply Program.

“It will be installed in phases to match the timing of the road construction,” said Mock, adding that completion of the waterline is currently planned for summer 2018 with a construction cost of approximately $10.5 million.”

By Ray Pitz
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