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Measure includes $3.5 million for engineering study for southbound auxiliary lane

PMG FILE PHOTO - As congestion has worsened on I-5 near Wilsonville in recent years, officials have tried to find ways to solve the issue. A bill that would address congestion on I-5 and the capacity of the Boone Bridge to weather a natural disaster passed through the first stage of the legislative process.

The Oregon state Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation unanimously approved the bill, which would allocate $3.5 million for the Oregon Department of Transportation to conduct an engineering study for a project to add a southbound auxiliary lane on I-5 near Wilsonville and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge.

The bill now will be considered by the Joint Ways and Means Committee on Transportation and Economic Development on a date yet to be determined.

If the Ways and Means subcommittee approves the

project, it would then go before the full Joint Ways and Means Committee. After that, Congress could vote on thebill.

Wilsonville Public Affairs Director Mark Ottenad is unsure at this point if the bill will be approved.

"There's a lot of measures competing for funding in the Legislature. This is one more item," he said. "The City and all of our citizens and businesses need to keep contacting legislators to indicate support for the legislation."

Ottenad said Mayor Tim Knapp is continuing to ask legislators to support the bill and that staffers are handing out copies of the I-5 Wilsonville Facility Plan — which was conducted by the City and ODOT and determined that an auxiliary lane would significantly reduce congestion on I-5 — to members of the Ways and Means subcommittee.

The bill was initially proposed by state Sen. Alan Olsen, directing ODOT to complete the project, which is expected to cost $120 million, in its entirety, but state Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, proposed the amendment to only fund the engineering study, which was approved by the transportation committee. She and others hope the study would help convince the U.S. Congress to fund the project through a major transportation package.

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