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THPRD committee envisions bridge or tunnel for Fanno Creek Trail crossing

An advisory committee charged with finding the best way for Fanno Creek Trail users to cross Hall Boulevard sees the solution in terms of up or down, but not around.

The committee narrowed down five options to two for the trail, whose final missing pathway link opened to traffic in December. Concepts involving pedestrian signals, an island or rerouting the trail to nearby intersections were eliminated in favor of a tunnel underneath Hall or a bridge over the busy boulevard.

The committee's findings were presented at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District's Jan. 9 board meeting.

Board members expressed opinions and concerns, but established no official consensus on the ultimate solution to keep pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists from battling traffic to cross Hall.

'We need to find some solution before someone gets killed,' board member Bill Kanable said at the meeting.

The project's consultant is expected to choose a final option in the coming weeks. The proposal will go before the Beaverton City Council sometime in March and return to the park district board in April.

An open house to discuss the final two options is scheduled for a Monday in late February at 6:30 p.m. at the Conestoga Recreation and Aquatic Center, 9985 S.W. 125th Ave. The exact date and time will be announced later this week, said district spokesman Bob Wayt.

The bridge options include a design with ramps approaching the bridge directly, at an estimated cost of $1.5 million to $2 million, and another with spiral-ramp approaches estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million.The tunnel or 'pedestrian underpass' option, which would involve raising Hall Boulevard to allow the trail to pass underneath near its natural grade, is estimated to cost between $3 million and $3.5 million.

The project's funding source has not been secured, but could involve a combination of funds from the park district, city of Beaverton, Oregon Department of Transportation and possibly Metro regional government.

'The biggest issue is who's gonna pay for this thing,' said Joe Blowers, who serves on the district board as well as the crossing's advisory committee. 'I don't have an answer. I know it's not going to be the park district alone, or ODOT alone, so it will likely be all of us together.'

Considering the two options, board members focused primarily on aesthetics and safety issues, along with concerns about how the creek's intermittent flooding might affect the tunnel/underpass option.

Board member Larry Pelatt said both over and under options present problems that must be addressed before a chunk of public money is committed. 'There's no place to pump (flood) water,' he said. 'And I don't like the overtop option. It's just ugly.'

Pelatt questioned why the crossing project, at this point at least, is on the shoulders of the park district more than that of local government and transportation agencies.

'Why are we the ones driving this?' he asked. 'Why not Beaverton or ODOT? It's a transportation corridor that's part of a grand master plan. I'm still curious why we're doing it. We should be a bit player.'

Given concerns about cost, as well as safety and vandalism issues involving the tunnel option, Board President Bob Scott said he preferred the overpass/bridge option.

'I thought they could do more work on it to make it prettier and more aesthetically pleasing,' he said this week. 'But it's just a start. In that area, I think flooding is a major concern. There's going to be times when it's not available for use because of the overflow of the creek … It's been known to happen.'

Blowers said the rejected options - including a crosswalk and rerouting - are popular primarily 'with everyone who doesn't walk or bike.' Blowers likewise understands why other agencies haven't stepped up with solutions or funding proposals. 'Their street goes through and our trail doesn't,' he said. 'The motivated party is the one whose path doesn't go through.'

Scott said a safe, attractive crossing option will mark the true completion of the system.

'Once the safety aspect is covered, it should be a lot more enjoyable trip for anybody using that trail,' he said. 'You'll be able to walk or ride all the way from the edge of Portland to Tigard, uninterrupted, which is pretty exciting.'



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