Tualatin: Slow traffic = Fast track
The city of Tualatin is moving ahead with several so-called "fast track" transportation projects, the result of a $20 million traffic improvement bond approved by voters last May.
While the total timeline of the bond project is three to five years, the fast track program doesn't involve major road projects. Rather, the focus is on addressing neighborhood safety, safe access to schools and congestion relief with projects that can be more quickly completed.
The first of what is known as the Tualatin Moving Forward program recently was completed and includes new buffered bike lanes, which run the length of 115th Avenue. In addition, a new crosswalk at the end of 115th Avenue and Hazelbrook Road was installed.
A public celebration and bike ride to highlight the project's completion was held Saturday
Jeff Fuchs, the city's public works director, said the city soon will hire a program manager who will oversee the transportation projects, someone who ideally will be on board by early November.
"We're excited to get that moving forward," he said.
One of those fast track improvements is set for Siletz Drive at Boones Ferry Road where the intersection will be reconstructed, including extending both the curbs and sidewalks (so that Siletz wraps around and connects to the paths that run along Boones Ferry Road). The project will make the curbs compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and two new reflective crosswalks will be added to both sides of Siletz Drive.
Also added to the site will be a pedestrian-activated rapid flashing beacon.
"I think that really helps to slow down traffic," Fuchs said about the beacon and reflective crosswalks. "I think it's going to be awesome because it will just get the driver's attention."
In May 2015, a Tualatin man was seriously injured in a vehicle/pedestrian accident in one of those Boones Ferry crosswalks, which resulted in the city upgrading to so-called continental crosswalks whose characteristics include wider white bars that resemble a ladder, Fuchs said.
Other fast-track projects soon to be underway include:
n The Sagert Street Mid-Block Crosswalk, which will be installed near Alfalti Park. It will include pedestrian activated flashing beacons and ADA curb ramps on each side of Sagert Street.
n The Avery Street project between Martinazzi Avenue and Boones Ferry Road where a driver feedback (vehicle speed) sign will be installed.
n An Ibach Street pedestrian crossing. Installation of a pedestrian activated signal — all the beacons will be solar-powered — and a crosswalk complete with an ADA-compliant ramp will be added along Ibach Street in front of Ibach Park.
"It will make it safe for people to get to the park," Fuchs said.
A driver feedback speed sign was installed at Ibach Street and 106th Avenue a year ago.
"It slowed people down," Fuchs said. "It has changed driver behavior, which is really nice."
Except for the Siletz project, plans are to finish all four others by early November.
Meanwhile, one of the longer-term projects will be $3.5 million in improvements to what's known as the Garden Corner "S" Curves that begin at 105th Avenue, continue up along Blake Street and turn into 108th Avenue on a roadway with no shoulders but with extensive pedestrian traffic.
While there are no plans to straighten the curves as a whole, there will be a minor shift in one of the curves that will allow for shared use of the path. The vertical profile of the road will be raised as well, said Fuchs, who pointed out that the project came as the result of public input during a street open house.
"This is one of our success stories from a public involvement standpoint," Fuchs said of the "S" curve improvements, which likely will be constructed in 2019.
He said in the past a brick wall where Blake turns into 108th Avenue has been the site of nasty crashes.
Fuchs said a separate consulting firm will be hired and put in charge of the Garden Corner "S" curves project.
"It's cool because it connects two neighborhoods," he said. "We're actually going to keep the lanes narrow because it slows down vehicle traffic."
Also included in that stretch of roadway will be a speed hump with a crosswalk and replacement of a culvert.
Meanwhile, plans are underway to add another lane along Tualatin-Sherwood Road by removing a center median between Martinazzi Avenue and the I-5 interchange eastbound. The result is expected to be a faster drive to the freeway following plans to realign the entrances/exits of the Nyberg Rivers shopping complex and the Fred Meyer store. That project involves three jurisdictions: Tualatin, Washington County and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Also, an overhead sign bridge will tell motorists what lane they need to be in to continue on Tualatin-Sherwood Road or to turn off onto I-5, Fuchs said.
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