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County unveils plans for 170th Avenue, Merlo Road

Open house gives public a chance to weigh in on proposals

Washington County’s Department of Land Use & Transportation will host a second open house in mid-January on changes to the 170th Avenue and Merlo Road area.Photo Credit: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: RAY PITZ - Washington County is in the preliminary stages of making major improvments to Merlo Road and 170th Avenue.

The open house is from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 15, at the Beaverton School District administrative offices, 16550 S.W. Merlo Road.

During the meeting, the county’s project team will show a draft conceptual design for future improvements to 170th Avenue between Baseline Road and Tualatin Valley Highway and on Merlo Road between Jenkins Road and 170th Avenue.

The draft design features sidewalks and protected bike lanes on both sides of the street, new pedestrian crossings, potential bus stops in anticipation of future transit service and a roundabout at the intersection of Southwest 170th Avenue and Merlo Road.

On the drawing board are plans to expand 170th Avenue between Merlo Road and Tualatin Valley Highway to four lanes with the same amount of lanes planned for the Merlo Road improvements. At the same time, 170th north of Merlo Road is slated for two through lanes (and a continuous center turn lane where appropriate), according to county planning officials.

At the Jan. 15 meeting, the project team also will answer questions and solicit ideas from the public about the design proposals.

The $59,780 conceptual stage of the project is funded through an Oregon Transportation & Growth Management grant.

Michelle Pimentel, a spokeswoman with the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation, said while the November open house with the Project Advisory Committee focused on the types of roadway treatments and potential pedestrian and bike facilities, the January meeting will look more closely at a possible roundabout.

The November meeting included property owners’ concerns about the impact of right-of-way issues with concerns voiced by representatives from the Beaverton School District, Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District and the Tualatin Valley Water District. The park district is concerned about losing some of its mature “edge trees” if the roadways are widened, she said.

Still, the draft design shows a desire to hold the line on properties on the west side of 170th Avenue that have already dedicated right-of-way and constructed sidewalks at their ultimate intended location,” Pimentel pointed out.

Also, the county has agreed to narrow its vehicle lanes along 170th Avenue by one foot, reducing its standard 12-foot-wide through lanes to 11 feet with 14-foot-wide center turn lanes shrinking to 13 feet in an effort to minimize impact to property owners.

Both Merlo Road and 170th Avenue are relatively busy roadways with traffic along Merlo generated by the presence of the Beaverton School District’s administrative offices, Merlo Station High School, Tualatin Valley Water District, Reser’s Fine Foods and the Merlo Road/Southwest 158th Avenue MAX station. Near the intersection of Merlo Road along 170th Avenue are the Beaverton School District’s maintenance services building and Beaver Acres Elementary School. And, of course, Merlo feeds into 158th Avenue and Jenkins Road, home to Costco and Nike World Headquarters.

Meanwhile, plans are also in the works to extend TriMet’s No. 67 bus line from the MAX station westward along Merlo road before traveling past Nike and eventually making its way to Aloha before heading to Progress Ridge Townsquare and ending up in Tigard.

One or more of the planned 170th/Merlo street improvements are expected to become a candidate in 2019 for the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program, which is the county’s property tax-based transportation funding program. If the project is deemed a successful candidate to move forward, construction would begin in the 2019-2023 timeframe. However, Pimentel said improvements to Merlo Road between Jenkins and the MAX tracks are expected to begin this year, all associated with future development by Nike.

More information about the project and drawings of the draft design are available at co.washington.or.us/170merlo. People can also contact the Land Use and Transportation’s long range planning section at 170Merlo@co.washington.or.us, or 503-846-3519.

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