|Volume 5, Issue 5||
Road improvement plans reviewed at Open House
Neighborhood traffic plans
The results of a study of traffic patterns in the neighborhoods north of Cornell were among the plans presented to the public at an Open House held April 23 in Cedar Mill. Neighbors have been concerned for years about drivers who cut through neighborhoods to avoid traffic on the major collectors. Streets to the east and west of Saltzman, including Lovejoy, Filbert, Marshall, and Kearney, have heavy loads of commuter traffic in the morning and evening hours, and increased traffic through the day with people going to and from the Safeway shopping area.
Neighborhood meetings were held and traffic studies were done to identify and assess measures that may have the potential to manage this traffic. These measures were outlined in maps and narrative and people attending the event were encouraged to “vote” for their preferred methods using colored stickers. Separate plans for the east and west side of Saltzman were presented.
On the east side, roundabouts seemed to be the favorite choice to slow the traffic that speeds past homes on the way from 119th. Other suggested “fixes” included speed cushions, electronic speed display signs, curb extensions and narrowing the streets.
On the west side of Saltzman, signs prohibiting left turns onto northbound Saltzman on both Filbert and Marshall were the clear winner. Other options presented were traffic diverters and a one-way closure for the streets to eastbound traffic. “This was the neighborhood’s preferred alternative from the beginning, but we told them we couldn’t do it at first,” said one county representative. “But then we found that the Saltzman improvement project (see below) would make it possible,” said the official.
In addition to the information about neighborhood traffic issues, Washington County Land Use and Transportation employees presented information about the Murray Boulevard improvement project and the future widening and improvement of Saltzman.
Saltzman Road widening
Matt Costigan, the Engineering Project Manager in charge of the Saltzman project, says that although the current plan calls for widening Saltzman to three lanes only up to the south side of Bauer Woods Drive, he hopes that the project can “fill in some of the missing gaps of sidewalk further north where we already have the necessary right-of-way (ROW). It will all depend on funding. Where those gaps are and what the ROW currently is are unknown at this time.” This would surely be welcomed by local residents whose children walk to Findley Elementary.
Costigan says that the department is “tentatively planning on an open house sometime in late May/early June and convening a Stakeholders Working Group(SWG)/project focus group in July with meetings starting in late July/early August. Planning will probably take at least a year, with construction expected to begin sometime in late ’08 or early ’09.
Funding for the project is part of the MSTIP 3B (Major Streets Transportation Improvement Project) which is providing $6.5 million. Improvements will include the addition of bike lanes, sidewalks, intersection and safety improvements, illumination and landscaping. Further improvements of Saltzman Road may include widening the road all the way to Thompson, and even a realignment of the steep curved section between Thompson and Laidlaw, but this will require funding that doesn’t yet exist. Anticipated traffic from the North Bethany area UGB expansion and growth along Laidlaw will definitely increase use of Saltzman.
Murray Boulevard project
The presentation also included a map of the suggested option that has come out of the SWG for the Murray Road improvements, which has been meeting since early March. The project will widen Murray to two travel lanes in each direction with a center turn lane all the way from Highway 26 to Cornell, and improve the intersection at Cornell. Bike lanes, sidewalks and other improvements will be included in the project.
One of the major issues with this project is that any design will necessitate impacts to existing buildings along the stretch of road. The SWG, composed of business owners, representatives of community groups and agencies, and local citizens, was given the chance to analyze seven possible options. The option that seemed most feasible to the group, called “Alternative Fit-reduced Lanes,” would impact the Sunset Shopping Center at the southeast corner of Murray and Cornell, and the Sunset Hum-dinger shop. Project staff will review the options with LUT management and present results at the next SWG meeting
The travel lanes would be 11’ wide, rather than the County standard 12’. Sidewalks and bike lane widths would also be reduced. This was felt to be a viable option because that stretch of road doesn’t lend itself to speeds that require wider lanes, and the narrower elements would allow preservation of the buildings on the west side of the road.
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