The City of Tigard is taking a lead role in helping to find funding to make sure a comprehensive study of the Highway 99W corridor is funded while at the same time pushing to increase the ranking of the highly traveled roadway when it comes to being on a list of major projects Metro will likely ask voters to support in a transportation funding package in 2020.
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Tigard City council listened to a report by city staff that noted the failure of Metro, the regional government in charge of many transportation planning projects, to rank Highway 99W as a Tier 1 project, a ranking that could make the roadway eligible for improvements as the agency looks at a November 2020 regional transportation funding measure. (That measure will also ask for funding for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail project.)
"Highway 99W, or Pacific Highway, provides regional connectivity from Portland to cities in and beyond Washington County, including Tigard, King City, Tualatin, and Sherwood," according to a Tigard staff report. "It sees approximately 48,000 daily auto trips while also serving as a TriMet bus corridor and, to varying degrees, a pedestrian and bicycle route where infrastructure exists."
The report further stated that approximately 70,000 people live within one mile of the corridor, serving "a high concentration of people of color, low-income households, and people with limited English proficiency."
Despite that, both Metro and the task force looking at the future transportation bond, identified Highway 99W as a Tier 2 corridor, making it unlikely that it will be included in that bond measure, according to the staff report.
Dave Roth, a Tigard senior transportation planner, told the council 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.
Tigard is now hoping to join in a comprehensive study along with King City, Tualatin and Sherwood in a quest to make sure that Highway 99W is on a list of priority projects when it comes to future Metro funding and on the radar for future state study.
Along with the affected cities, the Oregon Department of Transportation is planning to determine the scope of a comprehensive study this fall.
At the same time, Tigard has hired a consultant to help secure state funding during the 2020 legislative session to aid in the study.
In August, Tualatin officials expressed similar 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.
He stated that Tualatin voters approved a $20 million transportation bond package in 2018 proving that 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 and asked that both Highway 217 and Tualatin-Sherwood Road be ranked as Tier 1 corridors.
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