Connector road to industrial area opens
The new year marked a notable milestone for Wilsonville's embryonic industrial areas.
On Jan. 1, Washington County opened the 124th Avenue road extension from Tualatin-Sherwood Road in Tualatin to Grahams Ferry Road in Wilsonville.
The new road, which is also called Basalt Creek Parkway, will provide a connection for developers and businesses that will eventually set up shop in the Basalt Creek and Coffee Creek industrial areas in Wilsonville as well as Sherwood's Tonquin Employment Area and industrial development in Tualatin including its portion of Basalt Creek. These industrial areas, which were added to the urban growth boundary in the early 2000s, equate to nearly 2,000 acres of industrial space.
In 2013, to make the transition from rural to industrial development feasible, Metro, Washington County and relevant cities developed a strategy to transition the transportation network from mostly rural roads to roads that can handle heavier traffic and freight. And the 124th Ave./Basalt Creek Parkway extension was one piece of that project.
Basalt Creek and Coffee Creek are located on opposite sides of Day Road, which is a little under a half a mile away from Basalt Creek Parkway.
"From a high level perspective, the importance of the 124th extension is to provide a connection that wasn't there before," Wilsonville Planning Manager Miranda Bateschell said. "You have all this new employment land and the only facilities that existed were rural roads and they weren't up to standards for the freight network and traffic. This connection is really important to be able to serve those services."
The $30 million project, which broke ground in 2015, was designed and constructed by Washington County through the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program, which is funded through property taxes. The project also included improvements to Grahams Ferry Road and Tonquin Road.
Bateschell said the new road probably won't prove handy for most Wilsonville residents, but it might provide an option for traveling to Sherwood.
"(Widespread use) wasn't the original intent of the facility," she said. "Obviously residents and employees will use the facility as well but I'm not sure it will provide as much of a connection benefit because people will most likely use Boones Ferry and Grahams Ferry Road (to get to Tualatin)."
The road is two lanes, but the plan calls for it to eventually become five lanes and it was built with that in mind. Washington County Principal Engineer Russell Knoebel said the lane additions are projected to take place in the next 10-15 years.
"The expectation is some of that will be widened by developers (as a county requirement) as development occurs," Knoebel said. "What doesn't get built out by development will be funded by the county to widen it to five lanes."
Also, the county plans to extend 124th Avenue. to connect with Boones Ferry Road and eventually cross I-5. Knoebel said the county is currently designing the extension to Boones Ferry Road — a process that could take 2-3 years — and it currently doesn't have funding for the project. He also said the I-5 crossing will occur within the next 20-30 years.
"The vision for that is to help preserve the Stafford Road interchange," Bateschell said. "Instead of (travelers) having to go through that interchange it (the new road) would cross over I-5 and there would be a future connection on the other side of the interstate to the transportation network.
"We're excited to see the next phase start and have this facility improve connectivity and the network for these employment areas."