Members of the Tualatin City Council got a glimpse of how the city's $20 million traffic improvement bond projects are progressing during a tour of upcoming/completed projects Monday evening.
Packing into a small tour bus at the Juanita Pohl Senior Center, councilors took a 1 ½ hour tour of various projects tied to the successful passage of the 2018 bond, which are part of what's known as the Tualatin Moving Forward program.
The first stop was the Nyberg Rivers shopping complex parking lot to view a project that will add an eastbound lane along Tualatin-Sherwood Road from Martinazzi Avenue to I-5.
Troy Bowers, executive vice president of murraysmith, an engineering firm in charge of the traffic projects, said currently it takes 6 ½ minutes to travel from Boones Ferry Road to the northbound I-5 onramp during morning commutes.
However, adding a third lane by removing a median strip and placing road striping at the Nyberg Road, Tualatin-Sherwood Road and the Fred Meyer entrance intersections will make that same commute only four minutes long.
"We found we can save 2 ½ minutes," Bowers told the council. He pointed out, however, when engineers tried to see if reconfiguring the traffic lights would make a difference found that it would save motorists only 10 seconds.
At the same time, adding that third eastbound along Tualatin-Sherwood Road will clip anywhere from six to eight minutes of travel time from Boones Ferry Road to northbound I-5 during the evening commute. Bowers pointed out that 90% of traffic jams up the two current east bound lanes.
The $2.3 million project, which Bowers believes will come in under budget, was originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2021, but may get started as early as 2020.
Other locations visited during Monday's tour included:
• 65th Avenue: near Meridian Park Hospital. Plans are to add a mid-block pedestrian activated rapid-flashing beacon crossing. The signal will be installed at the TriMet bus stop.
"This is the last place pedestrians can cross the street before Borland Road," Jeff Fuchs, the city's public works director, pointed out. Fuchs said plans are to start design for the project in the fall with construction planned for next summer.
• Sagert Street pedestrian connectivity and enhancement project. Already completed, the project was designed to create Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks and pedestrian ramps. A pedestrian-activated signal on Sagert Street now connects the bus stop to Atfalati Park.
• Martinazzi Avenue and Sagert Street.
"So the concept here is how can we bring some order to the chaos," said Bowers. "So it involves a new traffic signal."
In addition to the signal, high-visibility crosswalks, curb ramps and sidewalks will be added to all four corners of the intersection. While Fuchs said a roundabout was considered, official determined there would be problems with traffic backups, right-of-way issues and larger construction costs.
Construction on the $2.3 million project (which could also come in lower) is expected to begin in the spring of 2020.
• Boones Ferry Road and Siletz Drive. "This was the site of a horrific accident," Fuchs pointed out, referring to a 2015 vehicle/pedestrian accident that seriously injured a pedestrian. "So this whole intersection is going to be reconfigured."
Plans are to improve pedestrian safety including the installation of a pedestrian-activated rapid-flashing beacon at the crosswalk that's on the north side of the intersection. Also added will be high-visibility crosswalks along with curb upgrades and ADA crosswalks.
• 95th Avenue and Avery Street. The project is designed to improve safety and access around Tualatin Elementary School. Plans are underway to conduct a "walk audit" allowing teachers, parents and others to determine what improvements they want, most likely tied to pedestrian safety and traffic speed improvements.
The tour also included a quick drive-by to view the Garden Corner Curves project, which makes improvements along 105th Avenue, Blake Street and 108th Avenue. While it won't straighten the road, it will add pedestrian, bike and safety features to the roadway. The project is 90% designed and construction is expected in early spring of 2020.
"The good news is everything is going perfectly to plan," Mayor Frank Bubenik said at the end of tour.
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