Wilsonville named one of 23 'Walk Friendly' cities in United States
Wilsonville has been honored as one of 23 cities across the United States to be designated as "Walk Friendly" in 2022 by the Walk Friendly Communities program.
It is the city's third time earning the distinction. After originally earning the designation in 2011, the city has now been redesignated twice (2016, 2022). Designations, which remain valid for five-year periods, fall under four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Wilsonville is one of 13 cities and towns to receive the bronze-level designation. Corvallis, which earned a gold-level designation, joins Wilsonville as the only Oregon cities on the list.
"Sustaining this designation for more than a decade is a substantial achievement," Community Development Director Chris Neamtzu said in a statement. "It's reflective of a long-held commitment to prioritize pedestrian safety and mobility. Walkable communities are more desirable places to live and work."
In order to earn designations, each community's efforts are reviewed in detail. In order to earn re-designation, Neamtzu submitted a 10-page report outlining various projects the city runs around pedestrian activity, as well as weak spots the city has addressed.
Recent projects included a new combined pedestrian and off-street bike path along Garden Acres road, as well as "road diets" — when the city buffers and widens bicycle lanes and creates more room for pedestrians by reducing the size of vehicle travel lanes in areas that have unneeded, excess vehicle capacity.
"It's really this multi-departmental approach cutting across these department lines to really provide the infrastructure that the community desires and really appreciates," Neamtzu said.
If Wilsonville hopes to earn a higher level of designation, he said the city will need a keystone project to present to the program. One possibility is a pedestrian bridge over I-5, which connects the transit center on the west side of Wilsonville in the Villebois neighborhood to the Town Center area. Neamtzu said the city received a Regional Flexible Funds Grant to conduct a study to choose a bridge type, design the bridge and advance the construction plans to 90% in preparation for a construction phase.
"If we can build that bridge over I-5, we will be in a position to be able to move ourselves significantly into that silver category, maybe even beyond the silver category," he said.
Managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, the Walk Friendly Communities program was established to encourage areas like Wilsonville in continued development of walkable and bikeable environments with emphasis on safety, mobility, access and comfort.
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