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Hocken Avenue reopens behind Cedar Hills Crossing

New bridge should be above anything Mother Nature throws at it

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Project Manager Aaron Halling peers over the new Hocken Avenue bridge as it officially opened to traffic Tuesday afternoon.The rebuilding of Southwest Hocken Avenue — part of it, anyway — wrapped up this week with a small bit of fanfare.

But actually, the road and its new bridge over Beaverton Creek and behind Cedar Hills Crossing quietly reopened to traffic at the start of the month.

The project’s contractor, Tapani Underground, completed the long-awaited project more than two months ahead of schedule and under the $3.04 million budget, said Jim Brink, a city engineer who works on Beaverton’s bridge projects.

“They worked really hard. They really did,” Brink said.

“They were here rain or snow and got it done,” added Mayor Denny Doyle, who took part in a brief gathering Tuesday as crews wrapped up the final touches, including road striping.

“We got a bunch of work done before the weather hit us last winter,” said Aaron Halling, project manager for Tapani, a company from Battle Ground, Wash., that has been involved in several major projects in Beaverton.TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Beaverton city workers removed traffic cones to officially open Southwest Hocken Avenue across a new bridge on Tuesday.

The street was widened with other improvements, but replacing the bridge was the centerpiece of the project. The new bridge is nearly 7 feet higher than the narrower one it replaced. The bottom of the bridge will still have at least a foot of clearance over the water in a so-called 100-year flood like those that hit in 1996, Brink said.

“There is no way in the world water will ever get on this bridge,” Brink said standing on the bridge on a hot day when Beaverton Creek flowed by at a leisurely below.

Doyle noted that the bridge also remained far above the rising creek when historic rains pummeled the city last December, unlike the devastation wrought by flooding in past decades.

“I truly believe we got a test from up above,” Doyle said.

The Hocken project is part of the city’s ongoing effort to reduce the hazards in flood-prone areas, especially along the long-ignored creek running through the heart of the city. Other bridge replacements, floodwater storage areas and additional measures also have reduced the threat.

Eventually, the city plans to also raise the bridge and surrounding roadway where Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard crosses the creek near the McDonald’s restaurant that was rebuilt at a higher elevation to protect it from future flooding.

But the city doesn’t yet have funding to schedule that larger project, Doyle said.

The just-finished project on Hocken was strictly north of Southwest Millikan Way, near New Seasons Market.

Hocken currently is closed to all traffic at its southern end between Southwest Canyon and Farmington roads as part of the larger improvement project underway along Farmington Road. That one-block section is expected to reopen in May.