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Bethany Boulevard expansion projects on the horizon

As the popularity of the Bethany area as a residential enclave and business center continues to grow, so does the flow of traffic negotiating the junction of Bethany Boulevard over Highway 26 and nearby intersections.

According to Washington County transportation statistics, the Bethany overpass carries 19,300 vehicles per day, while 27,000 vehicles traverse south of Bronson Road and 15,400 north of Cornell Road.

A package of projects to improve the area's traffic flow is set to commence next spring, with an eye for completion by December 2013.

Matthew Costigan, senior project manager with Washington County, presented an overview of the Bethany Boulevard Overcrossing project at Monday night's meeting of Citizen Participation Organization 7 in the Community Room of Bethany, 15220 N.W. Laidlaw Road.

The project will add two lanes - approximately 28 feet to the east - to the four-lane, two-span bridge that carries Bethany Boulevard over Highway 26. Two lanes will be added in each direction on Northwest Bethany Boulevard between Bronson and Northwest Cornell roads, and a second right-hand turn lane will be added on westbound Bethany just north of the highway.

'Right now (the overpass) is a four-lane ODOT structure,' Costigan said, referring to Oregon Department of Transportation's jurisdiction. 'It was not a high priority for ODOT. It is for Washington County. We're willing to take it on.'

The proposed improvements for the projects, which will total $25 million ($15 million for widening and $10 million for the overcrossing), also include the following components:

  • Widening Bethany Boulevard between Bronson and West Union roads to two lanes in each direction with an intermittent turn lane;

  • Adding an additional northbound through lane;

  • Adding an additional southbound left-turn lane at the eastbound 'collector/distributor,' or frontage road, that parallels Highway 26;

  • Adding bicycle lanes, a sidewalk on the east side of Highway 26 and a multi-use path on the west side;

  • Sight distance improvements at the adjacent intersections; and

  • Traffic signals, including a new signal at Bethany and Bronson, will be adjusted to accommodate the changes.
  • 'ODOT doesn't want a backup on 26,' Costigan explained. 'We look at signal timing as a global network, so all the signals will be talking to each other.'

    The project package will accommodate the widening and connection of the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District's Waterhouse Trail south of Cornell Road and the Powerline Trail north of Bronson Road.

    Contracting bids will go out in the spring after a public forum that will likely be scheduled early next year.

    'Construction will probably start after July 1,' he said.

    Ron Larson, project manager for ODOT, also took time Monday night to provide an update on existing Highway 26 construction between Cornell Road and 185th Avenue.

    The widening project, which started in June 2010, will leave three lanes in each direction with a median cable barrier, 10-foot-wide shoulders and new pavement and striping.

    'Now, when there's a disabled vehicle, everything slows down,' Larson said.

    With the new shoulders, 'drivers in lanes one and three will be able to get out,' he added.

    To accommodate drainage work, travel lanes are temporarily shifted on the westbound on-ramp from Bethany Boulevard.

    The new eastbound lane has opened, and the new westbound lane is scheduled to open sometime in December, Larson said. Motorists are advised to watch for trucks leaving and entering the westbound lanes.

    In response to a question about landscaping, Larson said native plantings are being added along a 100-foot retaining wall on the south side of the highway, and a wetlands area is being restored.

    'It was a pretty ugly wetlands before,' Larson said. 'I think it's going to look great when it's done.'

    For information on the Washington County projects, visit www.co.washington.or.us .

    For information on the ODOT projects, visit www.Oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION1 .