(Editor’s note: The following is a letter to ODOT Director Matt Garrett, dated Dec. 30, 2013, and Garrett’s reply dated Jan. 15. These letters were submitted to the Spokesman by Rep. John Davis (House District 26) and Rep. Kim Thatcher (House District 25).)

Dear Director (Matt) Garrett:

We are writing to you today to voice our concern about the Newberg Dundee Bypass with respect to its intersection with Wilsonville Road, and the impacts on traffic flow, congestion and safety issues created by the intersection and resulting traffic diversions.

The current plant for the intersection configuration shows the bypass effectively terminating at the entrance to Wilsonville Road. Although we understand traffic is intended to be directed to Highway 99W, it is reasonable to expect that bypass drivers will discover and prefer Wilsonville Road as a quicker and more direct alternative, one that takes drivers to Interstate 5 in Wilsonville with only a half-dozen stoplights. This is in contrast to the dozens of stops and starts, and highly congested areas that confront a driver taking 99W to Interstate 5 in Portland or Tigard.

We understand the Oregon Department of Transportation has studied this issue with traffic models and concluded there will not be a large diversion of traffic onto Wilsonville Road. We believe this is a mistake, and that as currently designed, the project will result in a significant increased burden and safety hazards on the road. The traffic burden, safety and maintenance costs will be borne directly by Yamhill and Clackamas counties, and the cities of Newberg and Wilsonville, the jurisdictions which maintain the road. Discussion with local residents and elected officials confirm these concerns.

We believe the inevitable traffic increase on Wilsonville Road poses great risk to driver safety and congestion issues in Wilsonville. We understand that ODOT is exploring plans to mitigate this issue, and we send this letter to request that mitigation measures be fully implemented. We want to be certain all possible options for reducing the impact of this project on Wilsonville Road are utilized.

Thank you for hearing our concerns and we look forward to your response.

Rep. John Davis (House District 26)

Rep. Kim Thatcher (House District 25)

Dear Representatives Davis and Thatcher,

Thank you for your Dec. 30, 2013, letter expressing concern about the intersection of Wilsonville Road and OR219.

ODOT has heard local concerns regarding the potential for increased traffic from the Newberg-Dundee bypass on Wilsonville Road. We are continuing to explore options to mitigate the issues and will monitor the performance of the intersection and any effects on Wilsonville Road both during and after construction of the project.

After speaking with two Yamhill County commissioners as well as the mayor of Newberg regarding this issue, several “traffic direction” mitigation measures will be implemented in order to direct travelers away from Wilsonville Road. Our traffic models show the majority of traffic bound for I-5 will go south to McKay Road, as it does now. We will clearly sign the new intersection indicating I-5 traffic should turn right and OR99W traffic should turn left. We believe McKay Road will be the preferred option over Wilsonville Road, offering better travel time, driver safety and traffic signal-free convenience.

We are also looking at signage options for Wilsonville Road. These options may include refreshing and enlarging current “NO Trucks” signage as well as adding “Local Traffic Only” signs. These options will need to be negotiated with Yamhill County, the road authority for that portion of Wilsonville Road.

Matthew Garrett

ODOT director

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