Tualatin Transportation Summit proceeds with one less proposal

As the Tualatin Transportation Summit draws near, one of the more controversial of the city’s transportation improvement ideas was officially struck from the Transportation System Plan during Monday’s City Council meeting.

The goal of the summit is to give the public a chance to learn about proposed transportation improvement projects, partly by interacting with traffic modeling software, and to prioritize some of the 160 proposals to improve mobility and transit around Tualatin.

However, one project in particular has been met with significant objection by both Tualatin residents and council members.

The Hall Boulevard Extension Project sought to connect Southwest Tualatin Road with Southwest Hall Boulevard in Tigard. The project called for a new two-lane road that would connect the cities via a bridge across the Tualatin River. Advantages included relieving traffic congestion on Interstate 5 by encouraging more local travel.

But many community and environmental groups objected to the negative environmental impact of the project, specifically to Cook Park wetlands, which the proposed connector would cut through.

The Hall Boulevard connection has long been in both cities’ transportation plans, with Tigard deciding in 2010 to preserve the proposal for future discussion.

After a two-hour work session, Mayor Lou Ogden acknowledged that “a large majority” of Tualatin residents opposed the project.

In a letter to The Times, Tualatin resident Toni Anderson outlined concerns about increased pollution from the extension, and that the new road’s path along the WES train track positioned it directly across from a popular paved pedestrian and bike trail in Tualatin Community Park.

“The roadway would be an unacceptable source of air pollution for park users,” Anderson wrote. “People within 1,500 feet of a major roadway would be exposed to exhaust fumes from cars and trucks.”

“I am not willing to solve (Oregon Department of Transportation’s) problems on the backs of our citizens,” Councilor Joelle Davis said, summarizing health and environmental concerns posed by the project. After confirming the city would have at least two more opportunities to revise the transportation plan before 2025, Davis said she opposed the extension.

The council voted five to one to ditch the Hall Boulevard Extension proposal. Mayor Ogden was the sole dissenter, arguing there had not yet been proper modeling of the Hall Boulevard project, nor for any of the other 160 proposed projects included in the plan.

“I have no sense of what any of these projects do to address (the city’s transportation) goals. I don’t know that we should be afraid to have data to measure,” Ogden said.

The Tualatin Transportation Summit will be held Thursday, Sept. 20, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tualatin Police Station, 8650 S.W. Tualatin Road. The public is invited to attend and review all transportation improvement ideas before the Transportation System Plan is finalized later this year.

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