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Hillsboro wants 'grade-separated' transit options on the table as Tualatin Valley Highway plan moves forward

Andrew Theen, The Oregonian, January 22, 2013

Hillsboro is concerned that the Tualatin Valley Highway Corridor Plan doesn't adequately address future north-south congestion issues, and it wants to keep some potentially unpopular transportation options on the table as the study comes to a close. (Read more)

HILLSBORO -- Hillsboro is concerned that the Tualatin Valley Highway Corridor Plan doesn't adequately address future north-south congestion issues, and it wants to keep some potentially unpopular transportation options on the table as the study comes to a close.

That may include what city transportation planners define as "urban-style context-sensitive grade separated intersections" – meaning elevated roads and ramps – at the gateway to the city's planned South Hillsboro community.

Don Odermott, transportation planning engineer, told the City Council at a work session last week that Cornelius Pass Road traffic volumes are expected to more than double as the South Hillsboro community is constructed.

North-south mobility is critical as residents and commuters travel to the city's job hubs, both existing and the anticipated build out of the North Industrial Area, on the city's north side.

The intersection of Southwest Cornelius Pass Road and Southeast TV Highway, the prime entrance into the city's planned South Hillsboro community, could make an ideal spot for the elevated traffic. Hillsboro is sensitive about making a "sea of concrete" at the entrance to South Hillsboro, according to urban planner Jeannine Rustad.

The grade-separated option is not a near-term solution to traffic congestion, but city staff wants it to be included in the "tool box" as the corridor plan's Policy Group gears up for its final meeting on Feb. 4.

Hillsboro is teaming with regional partners such as Washington County, Beaverton, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro on the project to address congestion, safety and livability issues on the 8.5 mile stretch between Hillsboro and Beaverton.

"It is not a shining example of what the region can be," Rustad said of the highway.

Short-term cosmetic and safety-related improvements are the top priority for the study. Improving pedestrian crossings, adding and expanding bicycle lanes and adding street lighting are all existing and immediate concerns, according to staff.

The city also recommends developing TriMet bus pullouts in conjunction with any intersection improvements on eastbound travel lanes.

Hillsboro also wants to partner with ODOT and the county to monitor traffic signal timing along the highway. The city believes current timing favors east-west travel.

Economic viability in the region and access to businesses is also an existing concern for policymakers and city planners. Rustad said there are more than 100 driveways along the 8 mile stretch on the north side of the highway alone.

Beaverton officials are also expressing some concerns about how the corridor plan gels with the city's downtown revitalization efforts.

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