Project that winds through Hillsboro expected to last two years

Spring is here, and that means the time is right to begin a major road construction project.

This month, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the city of Hillsboro are embarking on a $14 million project that will include reconstructing and repaving of sections of Highway 8 — the Tualatin Valley Highway — from Minter Bridge Road in the east to Southwest 331st Avenue in the west.

Approximately 3.4 miles of Highway 8 will be reconstructed, repaved and restriped, and Dairy Creek Bridge — which is just past 17th Avenue at the western edge of the Hillsboro city limits — will be repaired as well.

According to Lili Boicourt of ODOT’s community affairs department, the primary contractor — Moore Excavation of Portland — is expected to get the project started in late April or early May. Construction will continue for approximately two years.

“Work will be moving throughout the project limits,” Boicourt explained. “There will be sections that will be dug up at a time, but two or three blocks — not the whole section at once.”

The project includes repaving of Tenth Avenue, Baseline Street and Oak Street through downtown Hillsboro. Improvements to approximately 100 accessible curb ramps will be included.

While the road work is under way, the city of Hillsboro will take advantage of the construction zone to replace approximately two miles of aging water and stormwater pipelines in Hillsboro’s downtown area. ODOT is coordinating this aspect of the project with the city to ensure the utility infrastructure can be fixed while the roadway is under repair.

City officials pointed out that the water mains under Baseline Street and Oak Street are about 60 years old, and some sections of the steel pipes are failing and causing leakage.

“These pipes were initially identified over 10 years ago for replacement,” said Tyler Wubbena, engineering manager for the Hillsboro Water Department. “It’s older pipe, and a lot of it is undersized.”

According to Wubbena, the city is investing about $1.8 million for replacement of the pipelines.

Wubbena pointed out that replacement of the water mains has been listed on the city’s capital improvement program for about a decade.

“But with the nature of working on a state highway, we put it off,” Wubbena explained. “So when we heard ODOT was getting ready to repave, we said, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity to take care of some issues.’”

City officials said installing the new pipelines during the time the road is under construction not only saves money for ODOT and the city of Hillsboro — and by extension for taxpayers and ratepayers — but also reduces the impacts to traffic, businesses and pedestrians in the area.

City officials anticipate the pipeline replacement will start on Oak Street in late July or early August, but those dates are subject to change.

“The schedule is really preliminary,” said Wubbena.

During construction, motorists should expect single-lane closures on Highway 8 at any time, seven days a week. Construction will be ongoing day and night, and during the nighttime construction periods (7 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays; 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday), two lanes may be closed at times. Flaggers and signage will direct motorists through the detour areas.

It’s a massive endeavor with significant disruptions likely, but state officials said the work is overdue.

“I’m not sure how long this project has been on the wish list, but it is very, very needed,” said Boicourt.

Charlie Shell, project manager for the Hillsboro Department of Public Works, knows the project is necessary, but he also recognizes that a big construction project in a heavily-trafficked urban corridor will inevitably create some headaches.

“It’s good stuff, but it’s going to hurt for a couple years,” Shell said.

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