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Volume 9, Issue 3
March 2011

Portions of the existing sidewalk on the north side of Cornell are overgrown with shrubbery.

Sidewalks and more sidewalks!

Even though Washington County didn't get the state/federal pedestrian grant funds that we wrote about in November, the county is committed to completing the sidewalk on the west side of 119th from Cornell to McDaniel and is moving forward with the project.

Survey work is underway now, That is the first step in creating the engineering package that will determine the exact parameters of the project. The cost and scope of the project will depend on how much right-of-way (ROW) will need to be acquired, along with several other factors including the drainage facilities required by Clean Water Services.

Orange lines mark the missing sidewalk segments on Cornell.

The estimated $1.2-$1.5 million to complete the project will come from the Road Fund, which is comprised of the money the county gets from state gas taxes and registration fees. Dave Schamp, Director of Operations and Maintenance for Washington County Land Use and Transportation, says that the project may be expanded to also include the missing segments to create a full sidewalk along the north side of Cornell Road. That work is tentatively scheduled to go out to bid in early 2012 for construction during spring and summer of next year.

The sidewalk peters out about halfway between 119th and Saltzman. Residents of the apartment complexes are forced to walk in the street to get to nearby shopping and services.

Relief will come earlier for pedestrians using the south side of Cornell. This summer, Schamp plans to use the Minor Betterments program, which is in a separate budget item within his department, to build an asphalt path that will complete pedestrian access to downtown by connecting the sidewalk in front of the Cedar Mill Bible Church to the sidewalk in front of the Cornell Medical Commons building.

Schamp describes the program this way: "The basic intent of the Minor Betterment Program is to construct small-scale interim safety improvements that are outside normal maintenance, but are not capital improvements. Our goal is to make the existing situation better, as easily and cost effectively as possible. Given these constraints, these projects may not be constructed to full County standard. The investment is intended to make the situation better, not perfect. In the case of Cornell, we know people are currently walking along that section of road with basically no available area. So, if an interim project can get them back behind the curb and on a hard surface with reasonable slopes that work for ADA, we would consider that a success."

The county believes it has sufficient right-of-way to construct an asphalt path on the south side of Cornell this summer. The Minor Betterments program currently does not include ROW acquisition because it's usually too expensive to meet the $150,000-per-project limit.

Schamp attended the March 1 meeting of CPO 1 to discuss the Minor Betterments program and these new sidewalk projects. When he was asked about whether there are other urban unincorporated areas (UUAs) in Washington County that are demanding and getting new sidewalks, he indicated that Cedar Mill is the first. "It has to start somewhere," he said, "and you folks have made a great case for the need for them."

He said that his department is planning to ask the Board of Commissioners for more money in future budgets to handle the needs of the UUAs for pedestrian and bike facilities upgrades that are not part of major road projects. This is all part of the growing recognition on the part of staff and commissioners that even though it's very untraditional for county governments to serve urban areas, in our county it's a necessity.


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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291