I-205 improvement work slated for next spring
After years of planning, the first phase of the I-205 widening and seismic improvement project is set to begin next spring.
Construction on I-205, which will include adding a third lane between Stafford Road and OR 213 and ensuring bridges within that stretch of the freeway can withstand a major earthquake, is expected to last several years.
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, the first phase will focus on the portion of I-205 between Tenth Street in West Linn and OR 213 in Oregon City. Phase 2, which is expected to begin in 2025, will cover Stafford Road to 10th Street.
ODOT has broken up work for the first phase into several segments, Phases 1A-1D. Work on phase 1A will begin next spring or early summer and end in 2025, according to ODOT's projections.
Work on phase 1A will include seismic improvements to the Abernethy Bridge, replacing the northbound on-ramp at Highway 43 with a roundabout, widening and realigning the off- and on-ramps at OR 99E, bike and pedestrian improvements on Highway 43, Clackamette Drive and OR 99E, a sound wall near the southbound lanes at Exit 9 in Oregon City and widening the roadway between Tenth Street and OR 213 to allow for the addition of a third lane in each direction in a future phase.
Phases 1B-D will begin in 2023 and last through 2026.
The seven-mile stretch between Stafford Road and OR 213 is the only two-lane portion of I-205. According to ODOT, congestion at the bottleneck leads to seven hours of traffic backups per day.
ODOT hopes adding the third lane to this stretch of the interstate will improve Oregon's economy by creating a "safer and less congested travel corridor."
For West Linn residents, the hope is that relieving the congestion on I-205 will also alleviate the diversion traffic through local roads. Residents of West Linn's Willamette neighborhood have long lamented the traffic backup on Willamette Falls Drive caused by drivers cutting through town to avoid I-205 congestion at peak traffic hours.
Seismic improvements to the bridges are also meant to make the interstate a reliable transportation corridor in case of a major earthquake. Once the project is complete, the Abernethy Bridge will be the region's first earthquake-sound interstate bridge crossing the Willamette River.
According to ODOT, the seven miles of I-205 between Stafford Road and OR 213 could become a toll corridor in 2024.
Tia Williams of ODOT's Urban Mobility Office said the department was still planning how to implement tolls in the region, adding there were several key decisions from the Oregon Transportation Commission coming in the next year.
"The process to implement a toll program is lengthy and it will take several years before any revenues are available to finance the project in total," ODOT Director Kristopher Strickler wrote in a June letter to the transportation commission. "Tolling is currently being evaluated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The earliest tolling could be implemented is 2024 and toll revenue will not be available until that time."
West Linn residents fear tolling will only exacerbate the diversionary traffic cutting through local roads.
The Oregon Legislature intends revenue generated by the tolls to be the primary source of funding for the I-205 project, according to Strickler's letter.
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