Rather than build a temporary road, the city of Wilsonville plans to close Boeckman Road at the "dip" during the construction of a bridge designed to supplant the steep thoroughfare.
The Wilsonville City Council accepted this determination as well as staff's recommendation to construct a bridge rather than fill the dip and build an embankment during a meeting Monday, April 19.
The purpose of the project is to make one of Wilsonville's only connections across town safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Another consideration is that the road could become more frequently used as new Frog Pond neighborhoods along Boeckman develop.
"As our city has grown we have residential areas out there, we have schools, we have fire trucks, school buses in that area — more and more we will have pedestrians walking to and from schools. All of that requires the kind of road that we're hearing described," Mayor Julie Fitzgerald said at the meeting. "We need to correct the Boeckman dip. It is going to be a big undertaking but it is what our city needs."
Staff identified the road closure as a preferable option because construction taking place alongside traffic could create safety hazards. It would also extend the project timeline by a year, prompt tree removal and property acquisition and increase the project costs from $20.7 million to $22.8 million.
Wilsonville councilors stressed the importance of clear and proactive communication to the community to highlight the benefits of the project and allow people to make plans to adjust to the road closure.
Instead of the temporary road, the city is planning detour routes for Boeckman Road drivers.
Based on a study looking at the traffic impact of the project, consultant DKS Associates estimated that travel times could be impacted anywhere from one to seven minutes by the closure. Going from Frog Pond to Wilsonville Town Center, for instance, is estimated to take one to two extra minutes. The biggest disruption, according to DKS, will be to the intersection of 65th Avenue, Elligsen Road and Stafford Road — which is already below the minimum standard in terms of intersection functionality.
"This location fails under existing (2019) conditions as well as with full closure detour conditions. A temporary traffic signal to relieve congestion at these intersections would help mitigate the impacts of the Boeckman Road closure," the city staff report read.
The embankment alternative would have filled the dip and replaced the existing wildlife culvert with a wildlife tunnel. This option would have saved the city a couple million dollars. However, the city determined the bridge would require the least amount of tree removal, have the lower impact on nearby properties, be safer for pedestrians and wildlife passage, and would take less time.
"It seems to be the safest option, the quickest option. I do think the quickest will also translate into money. This is a very expensive project and getting it done quicker will be advantageous in that regard," Council President Kristin Akervall said.
As for financing, the city has already allocated around $15 million for the project via an urban renewal district, which collects taxes associated with increases in property values to pay for public infrastructure projects but is short about $6.7 million. The next steps include creating initial designs and determining a funding strategy.
Council addresses middle housing in Frog Pond West
Wilsonville staff projected that if the city simply meets the letter of House Bill 2001 requirements, designed to increase housing supply in the state, there likely would be very few additional housing opportunities in Frog Pond West than there would have been otherwise.
"The developers that are pursuing the properties out there are really interested in that single-family product type and it is likely what would be built out there," Planning Manager Daniel Pauly said.
For this reason, staff asked the councilors whether they would be open to requiring that a certain percentage of homes classified as duplexes, triplexes and cottage clusters be added to the plan for the neighborhood. The council gave direction to pursue that option.
"The main problem with that is that as a community through the equitable housing strategic plan that was adopted unanimously by the council last year and also by the work that community members have done and the council has done on our diversity, equity and inclusion work, we have committed to trying to make these opportunities available for more people to have middle housing," Fitzgerald said. "That's where I come to the realization that we do have to require something."
The Frog Pond West plan currently requires a small percentage of the lots in the neighborhood to be duplexes, and the city could increase that percentage while also allowing some other middle housing types. The city will further assess this option before bringing a more specific policy option to council.
Councilor Ben West preferred meeting the minimum requirements for the legislation but said he would go along with the council majority.
"I think it's a market-based decision, especially in that area. I don't have a large appetite to undo all that public work done before I was here and all that public process," West said, referencing the public input that went into the original Frog Pond West Master Plan.
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