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Bikeway plan kick-starts Creekside project


Open house shares redevelopment plans with business owners

by: CITY OF BEAVERTON - Beaverton Creekside District MapAs a Metro councilor representing District 4 in Washington County, Kathryn Harrington has heard about the city of Beaverton’s evolving Creekside District plans for some time. A recent open house geared toward businesses and residents in the district, however, opened her eyes to the project’s full potential.

“I’m starting to feel, more than just visions and what they’d like to do, that it’s ‘OK, this is what this would look like, and what we would work toward in terms of making it a reality,’” she said. “They’re trying to give folks a good appreciation of what the planning effort has been to date and ensure people are informed and in the know.”

Harrington’s reaction is just what Laura Kelly, project manager for the city of Beaverton’s Creekside District, is looking for regarding the fledgling revitalization project.

“It was more of an ideas-gathering session,” Kelly said of the Feb. 21 open house at the Beaverton City Library. “We did get a decent turnout — better than expected. In many cases, it was the first time they’d heard of the project, the creeks plan and the Canyon Road strategy.”

A manifestation of the city’s comprehensive 2011 Civic Plan, the Creekside District is a multifaceted redevelopment project encompassing 49 acres bound by Canyon Road — roughly between Hocken and 117th avenues — Cedar Hills Boulevard to the west and Hall Boulevard to the east and north. Centered on the Beaverton Central transit station and the confluence of Beaverton, Hall and Wessenger creeks, the area is considered crucial to a reenergized, attractive and economically vibrant city center.

With approximately $2.5 million in funding, including a $1 million grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and additional funds from the city, Clean Water Services and Portland State University, city planners are working with Portland’s Fregonese Associates to develop a master plan for the project. The plan — which likely won’t be finalized until next year — will concentrate on developing or redeveloping vacant lots in the area, improving safety, transportation and pedestrian/bicycling amenities, and improving long-neglected streams to create a natural focal point.

Two-wheeled plan

In the meantime, initial plans to route midtown bicycle traffic from Canyon Road to new “bikeways” on Broadway Street and Millikan Way, as well as improvements to Canyon Road to improve its safety, walkability and attractiveness to new development, will begin to take shape in the upcoming fiscal year, Kelly said.

“The first thing you’ll see is the alternative bike network to Canyon, on parallel east and west routes, on Broadway and Millkan. They’re not bike lanes,” she explained, “but ‘bikeways’ with safety enhancements like striping and signalization for bikes.”

The bikeways on parallel streets are an alternative to bike lanes on Canyon Road, whose current right of way space is too narrow to safely accommodate bike traffic and pedestrians.

“Canyon bike lanes are part of a long-term plan,” Kelly said. “The shorter-term solution is actually going to set us up for a long-term solution in which we will add a sidewalk area and a cycle track behind the (traffic) buffer.”

The time frame for that project is dependent on redevelopment along Canyon, in which new rights of way and traffic buffers to accommodate pedestrian facilities will be incorporated into design plans.

The initial bikeways plan carries a price tag of $430,000 for Millikan, while improvements to Broadway are estimated to cost about $120,000.

City planners are working with the Oregon Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit and improve mobility in the busy corridor between Lombard Street to Hocken Avenue for a variety of users. Improvements to the thoroughfare are expected to cost around $4.39 million.

John Fregonese, president of Fregonese Associates, estimated the basic elements of the project could fall into place within the next decade.

“And then, you can imagine coming back in 10 years from now and seeing Beaverton,” he told the City Council in January. “People won’t say, ‘I don’t know where downtown Beaverton is.’ This would really give you that whole thing — a very vibrant community.”

Exploring visions

One of the things that impressed Harrington at the recent open house was a presentation from Beaverton Arts & Communication Magnet Academy students on designs for the district they created in the school’s urban planning class

“It was really interesting to see how younger members of our community view places, and how they would like to see them shaped to serve other community members and to serve their future,” she said. “That’s always insightful to see and hear.”

Chris Bradshaw, vice president of operations for Carr Subaru on Canyon Road, said while he has concerns about how some of the Canyon Road improvement proposals might affect his and neighboring businesses, particularly the flow of vehicular traffic, he looks forward to a more aesthetically pleasing environment that highlights the natural beauty of the creeks.

“I think it’s a wonderful program, and I salute the city for doing it,” he said. “I was born and raised in Beaverton, and as a kid would walk up and down those creeks and play in them. Now they’re polluted. It will be nice for Beaverton residents to have a place to walk along the banks. For the public, it’s fabulous.”

Kelly said she and her department colleagues plan to meet with business owners in the Creekside District in April to hear their concerns and what they’d like to see from the project. Last month’s open house was the first in a series of events and outreach events to be scheduled in the next year, with the next one planned for midsummer.

“The Creekside District is the place where the goals and aspirations identified in the (2010-11) Community Vision plan are realized,” she said on Tuesday. “The community asked for our creeks to be urban amenities, for paths and trails to interconnect and for downtown to be a vibrant community. The Creekside District master plan creates strategies and projects to make sure that vision becomes a reality.”