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Tualatin councilors question whether $2 million too much for intersection

The Tualatin City Council will take a second look at the Martinazzi-Sagert intersection solutions

TUALATIN - The intersection of Martinazzi Avenue and Sagert Street may be one of the worst in the city, but is it worth $2 million to fix?

The Martinazzi-Sagert four-way stop intersection was the site of 10 motor-vehicle accidents in 2005, two of which involved injuries to pedestrians, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation's Accident Crash Data Information.

The intersection is described as 'failing' by traffic engineers and has been listed by the city as 'needing improvement' since 1997. The lines of traffic that meet every morning and afternoon at peak travel times are evidence of that.

City staff has spent the last 10 months holding open houses, gathering public comments and discussing design alternatives with consultants and committees.

One of the issues thrown into the mix from the beginning was the concept of a 'roundabout' as a potential solution. The traffic circle alternative seemed to draw out its own crowds of support and opposition as some worried about trying to learn how to navigate the European-designed contraptions.

Monday night, project manager Kaaren Hofmann presented to the council the technical advisory committee's recommendation for a solution - a $1.8 million traffic signal.

And while residents gave views both for and against the recommendation during a public hearing on the agenda item, the City Council's biggest concern seemed to be with the cost.

'Honestly, I don't see this as a high enough problem to spend $2 million on,' Mayor Lou Ogden said after listening to staff recommendations and concerns from area residents.

After about two and a half hours of discussion, the council agreed to table the issue for about 90 days. Hofmann expects the council to take a second look at the issue in late October or early November. The staff will look at an alternative for a single-lane roundabout, rather than the two-lane version it had originally researched. Staff is also expected to look at decreasing the size of the project and trying to cut costs.

The TAC had narrowed down its alternatives to two - a traffic signal and a roundabout. The options were almost equal in construction costs, according to the staff analysis. Both would cost roughly $1.8 million - the costs included right-of-way acquisition for the regrading of Martinazzi Avenue.

However, whatever project is accepted, the city's 2006-07 fiscal year budget does not have funds earmarked for it. According to the staff report, the city would not have enough to complete the project even in two fiscal years.

'I can't really be for either option because of cost,' Councilor Jay Harris said. 'It's too much for one intersection.'

Harris said that he would like to see if staff could get an alternative solution for under a $1 million.