The City of Wilsonville has considerable work to do before it can break ground on a new bridge over the 45-foot ravine on Boeckman Road between Stafford Road and Canyon Creek Road.
The purpose of the project is to provide easier and safer transportation for cars, bikes and pedestrians. The City said the project is especially important as Frog Pond residential neighborhoods are developed in the coming years.
During a Wilsonville City Council work session Monday, Feb. 3, staff members provided an update on upcoming analysis and the decisions that will need to be made.
Construction strategy is one of the most significant decisions looming.
Options range in price from $16 million to $20 million and include keeping the road entirely closed throughout a 12-month period (which is the cheapest option) — creating a new road next to Boeckman Road for temporary use during construction — or leaving half of the road open while one side of the bridge is built and then switching to the other side at the halfway point.
The final option would have the least impact on the environment but may be the most expensive, according to the City's analysis.
One question the City needs to answer before a choice is made is whether the federal government would require the removal and replacement of two culverts near Boeckman Creek, which could cost an additional $2 million to $3.7 million.
"The big question we're looking into more is what are the impacts to the Boeckman Creek, and what is the City going to be required to do to restore the creek or to preserve the drainage that's already in Boeckman Creek as part of the bridge project," City Capital Projects Engineering Manager Zack Weigel said in an interview.
He added: "It's possible that one alternative could require full restoration and another one woudn't. That's what we'd hope to get a better idea of as we go through the study."
On the other hand, if the City chooses to close the road for 12 months without building a temporary road, exacerbated traffic on other streets could be a downside.
City consultant DKS Associates recently assessed the transportation effects of the road closure and determined that there would be minor impacts to the majority of intersections.
However, the already-failing (from a traffic perspective) 65th Avenue and Stafford Road intersection would be negatively impacted. The study recommended adding a temporary traffic signal at the intersection to offset congestion.
Weigel also said the intersection of Canyon Creek Road and Elligsen Road would be adversely affected. However, the City is still gathering information about potential transportation impacts.
During the meeting, City staff also provided the council with the option of spending an extra $2 million to protect a historic Oregon white oak tree at the bottom of the dip.
As for how to pay for the project, the City is setting aside $14.5 million through urban renewal, which collects taxes associated with increases in property values to pay for public infrastructure projects in designated areas, but will need to add other funding sources to complete it.
"We're still looking into where additional funding could come from," Weigel said. "We need to get a better handle on what that (the cost) difference could be before proposing funding sources."
Nancy Kraushaar, a retired Wilsonville community development director who was hired to work on the project due to shortages in the City's engineering department, acknowledged the current uncertainty surrounding the project during the meeting.
"I wish it was clearer. I wish we had more answers," Krashaar said. "The more we talk about it, the more it becomes less and less clear."
As for the timeline, Weigel expects the City to conduct an initial small study for the council to choose a construction option and then for staff to conduct a more detailed study after that.
At the end of the meeting, Councilor Ben West asked if there were a cheaper alternative to the project, but City Manager Bryan Cosgrove and Mayor Tim Knapp reiterated its importance.
"It (the dip) doesn't meet our road standards at all," Cosgrove said. "You have an existing deficiency there, and you're going to exacerbate
it the more traffic you put on it."
"You're going to build a school (an elementary school) and you have site issues and you have kids on bikes all around the school potentially and vehicles not being able to see over the crest. That's a pretty significant issue in my book," Knapp said.
The Council will make needed decisions at a later date.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.