Wilsonville hopes to correct 'imposing dip' on Boeckman Road
Wilsonville Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar feels a tinge of trepidation when she bikes up the imposing dip on Boeckman Road near Canyon Creek Road.
She worries about a car recklessly speeding by while unable to see her under the apex or an animal racing across the street at an inopportune moment.
"It's really kind of a barrier," Kraushaar said.
But due to a project to fund a bridge on the Boeckman Road 'dip' that would flatten the slope and allow for a more navigable experience for all modes of transportation, Kraushaar's nervous trips may only last for a few more years.
The City of WIlsonville is proposing the addition of an amendment to the Year 2000 Urban Renewal Plan to extend the taxing district for three years and add $14 million to its indebtedness in order to build a bridge. "
"We've analyzed a few different financing options and the most viable for us was to use the Year 2000 Urban Renewal area to pay for this bridge," Wilsonville Economic Development Manager Jordan Vance said at an open house for the project Wednesday, Jan. 17. "So by increasing the maximum indebtedness by $14 million dollars, it increases the life of the urban renewal district and it allows us to pay for this project."
The plan would include the bridge's construction, adding pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, widening the roadway as well as removing a culvert and adding a natural stream and wildlife passage under the bridge. Planners must attain concurrence from related tax districts such as Clackamas County and have already received agreement from the Wilsonville-West Linn School District. After the City receives the go-head, a public hearing for the amendment and, potentially, a resolution to pass the amendment could then take place in the council chambers February 22. If passed, the project is projected to take 12-to-24 months to design and construction will occur within three to five years.
"The project's important because it's not safe right now. It's not up to our current urban design standards. There's a steep, vertical slope," Vance said at the open house. "It's also not multimodal so it's not accessible to bikers and pedestrians."
In Wilsonville urban renewal districts such as the Year 2000 Urban Renewal District, Coffee Creek Industrial Area and the West Side Urban Renewal District, the City places the extra tax money garnered from increases in assessed property valuations from a "frozen base" into the urban renewal fund. Then they use that money for City projects.
City of Wilsonville Finance Director Susan Cole says using the urban renewal money for the Boeckman Bridge project frees up money for other projects.
"The City has a number of roads that would need further connection. We just finished Kinsman Road. There's a number of streets that need to be connected and widened," Cole said. "That's what we use our transportation system development charge for and so by using urban renewal on this one we don't have to use system development charges for this — meaning we have more money to make those other road connections throughout the city."
Wilsonville staff says the current "dip" includes vertical grades that do not comply with American Association of State Highway and Transportation guidelines.
And since Boeckman Road is close to the soon to be developed Frog Pond West area, it will become a more important thoroughfare.
"It's going to become an increasingly important connection for Frog Pond once the Frog Pond residential area builds out in the northeastern quadrant of Wilsonville," Vance said.
Some attendees of the open house raised concerns about the negative impacts of bridge construction.
The City will hire a consultant as well as a bridge construction contractor to help mitigate road closure time.
"Sometimes you can build half the bridge and then keep half the road open and then build the other half and move the traffic over. That's just an idea for how we could minimize the road closure time but we will need to close it for some period of time. I just don't know long," Kraushaar said.
Kraushaar says the City would also like to align the project with road renovations along Boeckman Road but may not be able to do so because they may have to wait for revenue sources to trickle in to accrue enough money to pay for the separate Boeckman Road renovations.
"It's important for the public to know that we know it's a really complex project and there's going to be many different needs that we need to balance," Kraushaar said.
Kraushaar also says the wildlife passage will remove potential hazards associated with animals crossing the road and the stream will provide an easier pathway for fish.
"And the other thing is for the wildlife crossing right now, they can't get through the culvert. They have to cross the road, which can be dangerous for animals and humans. And so there will be wildlife passage underneath the bridge," she said. "The culvert removal will return it to more of a natural stream state."