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Highway 47 traffic light a maybe, maybe not

Forest Grove residents may get the traffic light they’ve always wanted.

Or not.

At least they took a step closer Monday when the Washington County Coordinating Committee voted to endorse the “MSTIP 3E 150% Project List.”

After years of concern about its safety, Highway 47’s busy intersection with Fern Hill Road and Maple Street is now on the Washington County Land Use & Transportation Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) list for the five fiscal years from 2018/2019 to 2022/2023 — meaning it could be improved at any point during that period.

The prospective $15.1 million project would add safety improvements, including a possible traffic light or pedestrian crossing signal — or both.

“Part of the proposed project funding would be for alternatives analysis — an evaluation of a variety of potential safety improvements which may include a traffic signal,” said LUT spokeswoman Melissa De Lyser.

“We haven’t done a full analysis to determine what the solution might be [for that intersection],” she added. “The signal and safety improvements on the list are tentative because the list being proposed hasn’t been finalized yet.”

“We’ve heard a lot of concerns from community members about getting across [Highway 47] on bike,” said LUT Communications Coordinator Stephen Roberts.

The MSTIP project list currently includes one other Forest Grove project, an $8.6 million effort to widen Martin Road and add 8-foot shoulders from Highway 47 north to Verboort Road.

Two other Forest Grove projects didn’t make it onto the list: One would have added bike lanes and sidewalks to Thatcher Road from Gales Creek Highway north to David Hill Road, and a second would have widened Thatcher to three lands with bike and pedestrian paths from David Hill north to Purdin Road.

The two surviving projects face a number of challenges before they become permanent fixtures on the just-approved list, which now has $240 million worth of road improvement projects while only $160 million is available, according to LUT Director Andrew Singelakis.

Monday’s vote gives LUT staff the go-ahead to present the list to the Board of County Commissioners for review at its April 26 work session.

The list will then be displayed online and at three open houses around the county in May for the public to say which projects they’re interested in seeing completed.

The Forest Grove open house is scheduled for Thursday, May 19, at the Community Auditorium.

Singelakis said the project list will be further trimmed to match the available project funds

following the public outreach period.

“We want equal distribution around the county,” he told the commission Monday. “We know this is a difficult process, and we appreciate the concerns expressed around the table.”