West Union Road gets a big lift

County project could help prevent flooding, aid recreation trail
by: File photo, In this photo from December 2005, Washington County employee Herbert Bridges installs “road closed” signs next to Deerfield Drive because of high water that had covered the road. The county plans to make improvements to the roadway from the road barriers in the foreground to those in the background.

An oft-flooded portion of West Union Road is about to be elevated and made more pedestrian-friendly as soon as this summer.

The Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation is in the process of seeking permits to make improvements on West Union, east of 185th Avenue between Deerfield Drive and Kahneeta Drive.

Plans are to widen the roadway there to 98 feet and add shoulders and sidewalks.

It could cost about $2.2 million for the project, which is being funded through the county's Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program 3B.

County project engineer Matt Meier said the agency recently sent permit requests to the Oregon Department of State Lands and the U.S. Corps of Engineers to gain permission to work in a wetlands area and floodplains.

Construction in such areas is permitted only from July to the end of September.

If the permits can't be obtained in time, the project will be pushed to summer 2008, he said.

The wetlands, which overflows with surface runoff during rainy periods, often sends water rushing across West Union Road, forcing the county to close the road. That water eventually drains into the nearby Bethany Pond.

'We'll raise the road six feet at its lowest point,' said Meier.

In turn, workers will install two 9-by-6-foot box culverts under the road to handle the water.

Also, two 12-foot-wide travel lanes and a center turn lane or median will be installed.

Meier said bike lanes will be included and there also will be small ditches next to the sidewalks to accommodate water runoff coming down West Union.

Fixing the roadway also could pave the way for Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District to lengthen an expansive trail that comes out at West Union only yards away from where the roadway improvements are planned, said Meier.

Steve Gulgren, superintendent for planning and development for the parks district, said the district and county are discussing options related to the trail extension.

'We're trying to put a package together with them,' said Gulgren.

Ideally, that would mean extending the trail, which now ends on the north side of West Union Road, across the roadway so it eventually hooks up with the Bethany Lake Park Trail.

'It would fill a missing gap,' said Gulgren.