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The Oregon Transportation Commission allocates $300,000 for project designed in part to quell I-5 traffic near Wilsonville

PMG FILE PHOTO - Based on unexpected money from the Federal Highway Administration, the Oregon Transportation Commission agreed to set aside $300,000 to study a project to add a southbound auxiliary lane near Wilsonville and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge.

At least a portion of the funding the Oregon Department of Transportation will use to study a project to add an I-5 southbound auxiliary lane near Wilsonville and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge has been determined.

With the Federal Highway Administration estimated to dole out around $27 million in additional funds to Oregon for transportation improvements that the Oregon transportation agency hadn't yet accounted for, the Oregon Transportation Commission decided to use $300,000 of that money to fund a study to determine the scope and cost of the Boone Bridge project during a meeting Aug. 6.

The goal of retrofitting the bridge is to prepare it for an earthquake and the goal of adding the auxiliary lane from the Wilsonville Road exit to the Canby/Hubbard exit is to lessen traffic on a section of I-5 that is considered a bottleneck.

The Oregon State Legislature had already passed a budget note in House Bill 5050 mandating that ODOT present a report on the study's findings to the legislature by Feb. 1 2021 and that timeline has not changed.

ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton said the $300,000 will not be enough to complete the entire study and that ODOT is still assessing the cost and revenue sources for the study.

"That (the $300,000) will allow us to begin the process of widening and seismically retrofitting that bridge. It's a bad bottleneck down there and this has been on the horizon for awhile," Hamilton said. "This is getting us started. It's doing the first step in the engineering, the scoping we call it. It's starting (to learn) what needs to be done, how we're going to do it and determine some of the costs."

Hamilton said the project will be challenging.

"There's so many moving parts. We need to figure out the engineering, how do we add a lane on the bridge that goes over the river and think about how to do this (with) a minimal impact on the traveling public," he said.

The City of Wilsonville has long advocated for the project, which is projected to cost $120 million based on a rough estimate. The current timeline for completion is between 2028 and 2040.

"We're really happy to see the OTC act so quickly. The Legislature just passed the bill June 30th. For ODOT staff to jump on that quickly shows that they're taking this very seriously," said Mark Ottenaid, the City of Wilsonville public affairs director during the Aug. 19 city council meeting.

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