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Wanting a quicker way to get to 99-W? Maybe someday ...

The intersection of Brookman Road and 99-W at the southern end of Sherwood has been listed as a possible site for the end of the Interstate 5 connector.

The decades-long process of building a new westside highway continues to inch forward this month.

The connector may one day be attractive to drivers in the Lake Oswego area, seeking to reach Highway 99-W south of King City.

State and local officials are holding a series of open houses to discuss the I-5 connector project - the proposed road linking I-5 with Highway 99-W. While all of the westside communities have an interest in the project, Sherwood and Tualatin could feel the biggest impact of the thoroughfare, both in traffic reduction and altering the physical landscape.

Two of the routes being discussed run through or near the cities, including a road that would cut through the south edges of both towns. That route could meet 99-W somewhere near the Brookman Road intersection at the southern edge of Sherwood. Another proposed route would link I-5 to 99-W using the traffic-choked Tualatin-Sherwood Road with a new extension from 124th Avenue.

The group will meet today, Nov. 30, at Middleton Elementary School in Sherwood, and Thursday, Dec. 6 at Wilsonville City Hall. Both open houses run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The I-5 to 99-W Connector Project is a joint effort of Washington County, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro.

Sherwood Mayor Keith Mays, who is the city's liaison on the project, said the session will be informal, and citizens can drop by at any point to speak during the three-hour stretch.

'These are public open houses for folks to look at information that has been gathered to date and give feedback on what they they think should or shouldn't be done,' he said.

Wilsonville is lobbying for a connector that uses a more southern route, connecting with Newberg and running along the Willamette River. Sherwood and other towns have not lobbied so aggressively.

While officials from several cities have expressed optimism in the project, that feeling is guarded. Some type of discussion on the matter has drug on for decades.

'We've been talking about building a much larger westside bypass connecting Wilsonville to Hillsboro for at least 30 years. This connector idea might be a scaled-down version, but it will help absorb a lot of traffic now cutting through rural roads and neighborhood streets looking for a short cut,' said Rep. Jerry Krummel, R-26. 'Wilsonville and Sherwood are often viewed as bedroom communities and we need to help commuters who work outside those areas. In addition we need to accommodate companies trying to move goods to market.'

The current open houses come exactly one year after a series of open houses jumpstarted the latest phase of the project. Officials have designated a 23-square-mile area between the King City-Durham area and North Wilsonville as the focus of the project. During that first series of open houses, about 120 residents attended in Sherwood with another 100 going to Tualatin.

No final decisions will be reached about whether to construct a new highway connecting the I-5 to 99-W until at least 2008. Several other concepts are also on the table including improving existing roadways and more mass transit.