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'Significant' TV Highway construction project likely to include truck detours through Hillsboro neighborhood

Andrew Theen, The Oregonian, Novemeber 27, 2012

Oregon Department of Transportation officials briefed Hillsboro's Transportation Committee on Tuesday about a three-year project to rehabilitate large sections of Tualatin Valley Highway slated to begin next year, and traffic concerns are already on the mind of ODOT and city officials.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials briefed Hillsboro's Transportation Committee on Tuesday about a three-year project to rehabilitate large sections of Tualatin Valley Highway slated to begin next year, and traffic concerns are already on the mind of ODOT and city officials.

The project, expected to cost upwards of $13-15 million, will mean daytime and evening lane closures of the busy stretch of highway from Southeast Minter Bridge Road stretching to the intersection of the highway and Southwest 331st Avenue in Cornelius.

It will likely include a truck detour through a Hillsboro neighborhood that could extend for months at a time - at night - something that City Council members concede is unavoidable as crews work to rehab a bumpy, and aging stretch of the important thoroughfare.

Nate Scott, ODOT project leader, told the committee the project includes "very substantial infrastructure" improvements, particularly where the highway splits into three-lane one-way sections of Baseline and Oak Streets through downtown Hillsboro.

More than 38,000 cars travel each way on the couplet each day, according to Scott.

The city's share of the project, an estimated $5 million for sewage and water line improvements, will be funded by system development charges.

ODOT is trying to mitigate the anticipated traffic snarls by carefully scripting out work schedules and lane closures; that means heavier construction on weekends and overnight, with multi-lane closures likely to occur from 7 p.m.-6 a.m.

"Pretty much all of this road is going to be torn up at one point or another," Scott said of the project, expected to begin in spring 2013 with a completion date of 2015. ODOT expects to issue bids in February and beginning construction thereafter.

The construction firm ultimately selected to complete the project doesn't have to abide by ODOT's traffic plan, Scott and project manager Wayne Statler said.

Scott asked the committee to give its approval to a truck detour for rigs that are too large for the access when the road is limited to one through lane.

The route: Southeast Walnut Street.

"I don't like it," Council President Aron Carleson said, "But we have to do it."

Carleson and other committee members expressed concern about the route through a residential neighborhood, but ultimately the committee has few choices to divert truck traffic, according to ODOT..

Scott said ODOT studied alternative truck detour routes, but those included significantly longer distances for trucks to travel.

ODOT said construction crews could use flaggers to keep truck traffic moving to reduce noise issues. The estimated number of vehicles that would need to use an alternate route during construction is roughly 30 each night, according to Scott. The hope is some of that traffic, much of it local, will choose a different route altogether.

Crews would work on three-block segments of the road at opposite ends of the couplet so as not to cause undue damage to businesses or residences.

Scott said ODOT is planning outreach efforts for businesses along Baseline and Oak streets, as well as residents of the neighborhood. They are holding an open house at the Civic Center on Thursday morning from 8:30-10 a.m. for business owners to learn more about the project.

The committee also gave its approval to a $55,000 plan to improve pedestrian crossing options on Southeast Minter Bridge Road at the intersection of Southeast Jacquelin Drive.

Concerned residents west of Jacquelin Drive brought safety concerns to the city's attention last month. The three-lane road has a 35 mile per hour speed zone and is less than a mile from Minter Bridge Elementary School.

The committee approved a crossing option identical to the area on Jackson School Raod near Jackson Elementary: a flashing 20 mile per hour speed zone during set hours, and a pedestrian activated crossing beacon. The $55,000 cost will come out of the Transportation Utilities Fund. The city council has to ultimately approve the transportation improvements. City staff said construction would likely begin in the spring of 2013.

Read more at OregonLive.com