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Analysts believe they found solutions to traffic concerns, accommodating a 220-unit apartment complex near the grocery store

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Congestion concerns about a proposed apartment complex led to discussion of a potential second Safeway driveway east of the fuel pumps as an exit. Woodburn stands to add some acreage and places to live in the near future.

Woodburn City Council recently approved the annexation of 8.6 acres on the north side of Molalla Road (Highway 211) near Safeway where a 220-unit apartment complex is envisioned by Ivanov Construction Co.

The annexation is necessary for the project to move forward, while the council's approval of it is contingent on developers working with Safeway to alter its parking-lot traffic flow to accommodate traffic congestion concerns.

Those concerns date back to a January council meeting when the apartment project originally was presented. Councilors generally were favorable to the concept, but they did have concerns about the nearby highways 211 and 99E intersection traffic coupled with traffic rolling in and out of Safeway parking lot, which often is susceptible to congestion, especially at peak traffic hours.

Representatives of the developer contacted the Oregon Department of Transportation and Enloe Consulting to explore solutions. Consultant Tegan Enloe apprised the council of subsequent traffic analysis studies and potential solutions during a March 8 meeting.

"One thing (transportation analysts) did bring up that could potentially work — and I did analyze and it looks like a really good, viable solution — is that you could split those (Safeway driveways)," Enloe said. "And what that would mean is you would leave the existing driveway as it is in its current position, and it would be an entrance only.

"That would continue to function well as an entrance," she said, "and then a second driveway could be added east of the fuel-pump station that would allow people to exit."

Enloe said having separate entrance and exit driveways with the latter located east of the fuel station would ensure a volume-to-capacity ratio that operates within the mobility standards, in part because exiting the parking lot would occur farther away from the intersection than it currently does.

"You would see a reduction in the delay in how long it would take someone (to turn) making a left out of that driveway," Enloe said.

The council made that driveway plan a condition to passing the annexation and ultimately approving the apartment plans. So the complex now hinges on Ivanov Construction working out a solution with Safeway.

"We haven't approached Safeway about that issue, yet, primarily because we haven't had enough time to because we just completed this (analysis)," said Mark Grenz, an Ivanov Construction representative. "But that would be our approach; we would go to Safeway and work with them to come up with an acceptable option to do that."

Grenz said he and the ODOT representatives he has spoken with believe the restructured driveway plan would yield positive benefits for Safeway by streaming traffic more seamlessly through the store's parking lot.

Grenz itemized and underscored a number of advantages to the city by giving the complex project a nod. Included in those is $10,000 the developers are paying for a traffic intersection study at 211 and 99E; dedication of additional right of way; the project will work out an agreement with ODOT regarding financing intersection improvements; additional bicycle and pedestrian improvements on 211; transit fees; system development fees, along with an additional "badly needed" 220 units of housing.

Grenz estimated the SDC's alone to amount to about a half-million dollars.

"I'm very impressed with the information that has been delivered tonight," Council President Robert Carney said, noting that the vision and plans are much clearer than they were in January. "There was a great deal of uncertainty among many councilors about the ability to get even this far. ... I have a significantly higher level of confidence in this annexation than I did before."

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