Highway 99W 'initial look' corridor study due soon
A Highway 99W study spearheaded by the Oregon Department of Transportation is expected to be out within the next month.
The report will outline what the state highway department has learned about the corridor; the needs and concerns expressed by a variety of stakeholders, including local cities and jurisdictions such as Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, King City and Washington County; and recommendations for making future corridor planning efforts a success, according to a department spokesperson.
"In terms of when an actual corridor plan might take place, the regional transportation funding measure that Metro has just referred to the November ballot includes planning funds for 99W," said Lou Torres with ODOT. "If that passes, we would expect preparation for the plan to begin sometime in 2021."
He said if the measure fails, the partners involved will have to look for alternative funding options.
Metro agreed last week to send a roughly $5 billion transportation measure to voters in the fall that, among other things, would include funding for the proposed Southwest Corridor MAX line, which would bring light rail from Portland to Bridgeport Village in Tualatin. The measure would also make improvements to Tualatin Valley Highway and other major roadways.
Last fall, area cities pushed for Metro to give priority to a study of Highway 99W, and a Metro task force was gathered to look at a variety of top-ranking roadways in need of improvements including the state highway.
On July 13, the Tualatin City Council discussed ODOT's initial look at Highway 99W during a work session.
"Early findings included the importance of this area as a regional workforce and tourism route, high safety concerns for cyclist and pedestrians, limitations of reliable travel due to congestion, and the need to serve historically marginalized communities that live in the area," Tualatin city staff wrote in a report presented to the City Council.
Garet Prior, a Tualatin policy analyst, said if the mile-long corridor between Tigard and Sherwood were improved, it could have major benefits for the traffic flow on the oft-congested highway.
Next month, the highway bridge over the Tualatin River is expected to undergo upgrades, although that project's goal is to shore up and partially resurface the bridge rather than reduce congestion.
Prior said the Metro measure has listed $3.5 million in funding for a Highway 99W corridor study plan.
Tualatin City Council President Robert Kellogg said he participated in a conference call with local cities and the project consultant in an exploratory meeting about what Highway 99W means now and 20 to 30 years down the road.
"One of the concerns I expressed was at Cipole (Road), where you've got all those folks who live in Pony Ridge and the difficulty they have trying to cross four lanes of traffic to get across the road," said Kellogg, who announced recently he will not run for re-election in November. "Also, as that far west area develops with increases with the addition of industrial use, they will need to make improvements to Cipole Road as an alternate north-south arterial, paralleling 124th Avenue."
Added Councilor Bridget Brooks, "I just don't think it's any secret for anybody that's been on 99W that there needs to be improvements there, especially the section you're talking about."
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