Planning, design to focus on bike network, pedestrian safety

A $3.5 million grant through the Metro regional government will help crystallize an extensive city of Beaverton plan to transform a Southwest Canyon Road corridor into an area more appealing, commercially viable and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Metro Council voted last Friday to support the city’s request for Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program funding to design and construct the Canyon Road Safety and Streetscape Enhancement Project.

Part of the more comprehensive Creekside District Master Plan to revitalize a 51-acre area of Central Beaverton, the project will focus on intersection improvements, a bicycle network, new sidewalks and landscaping along Canyon Road between Hocken and 117th avenues. The stretch of Oregon Highway 8, which the Oregon Department of Transportation maintains, carries more than 30,000 vehicles and serves 50,000 public transit riders a day, city officials noted.

Construction on the project isn’t set to begin until 2016, but having a chunk of the necessary funding will keep design refinement, engineering and planning on track.

“There is a lot to do between now and then,” said Robert McCracken, senior planner in the city of Beaverton’s project planning and implementation division. “We’re working through the design phase of Canyon Road. Part of that is a bike network, then we move into the capital improvement plan.”

Allocated every two years, Metro’s Regional Flexible Funds Allocation program includes funds from federal programs including the Surface Transportation Program and the Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality Program. Metro received 34 applications for the latest round of flexible fund grants, based on a list on the agency’s website.

“This is excellent news,” McCracken said of the successful grant request. “It’s a good project, with lots of members of the community supporting the need for these safety improvements.”

The Metro grant marks a positive step after the city’s unsuccessful application last summer for a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER grant, a highly competitive program administered by the United States Department of Transportation.

“This funding package is about a third of what we requested from the TIGER grant,” McCracken said. “That was a really competitive process, but it helped us get the project understood, and we developed a lot of (project-related) materials for it.

“The (Metro) grant isn’t as splashy,” he added, “but it’s great to have.”

Metro invited public comment on its website for flexible funding grant projects. While one commenter objected to bike lanes and another felt other sections of Canyon deserved more attention, the feedback was largely positive, Metro officials noted, with most commenters supporting the project as necessary to improve bike and pedestrian safety on the congested thoroughfare.

Comments called for improvements to help pedestrians and cyclists cross Canyon and noted moving bike traffic off the four-lane street onto Millikan Way — one of the bike network’s goals — would improve safety as well as vehicular traffic flow on Canyon. They also noted the project would improve multi-modal access to the Beaverton Transit Center and help bring about improvements suggested through the city’s 2010-11 visioning process.

That citizen-driven process specifically identified the need for traffic-flow improvements on Canyon Road, as well as safer bicycle and pedestrian amenities.

Mayor Denny Doyle praised the grant as an encouraging development toward moving the Civic Plan, formed from the visioning process, forward.

“This is a significant step toward making our Civic Plan’s concept for Canyon Road a reality,” he said, thanking those who helped shape this project, including the “great partnership” with ODOT. “Our city staff also worked tirelessly throughout this funding process.”

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