Cornelius makeover of Highway 8 nears completion

It’s a bit of a tangled mess for now, but when the construction work on Baseline Street (eastbound Highway 8) in downtown Cornelius is completed, city officials believe it will all be worth NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Heavy equipment has been on the job along Baseline Street in Cornelius in recent weeks, including, as seen here, in front of the colorful mural on the old Hanks Thrifway building.

The city is in the midst of a major reconstruction project in the corridor that has an overall price tag of more than $5 million. In addition to repaving the highway through the southern portion of the downtown business district, new sidewalks and curbs are being added.

“The funding is from several sources, agencies and grants,” said Mark Crowell, director of the Cornelius Public Works Department.

Federal “Congestion Management Air Quality” funds provided most of the money for the work, which is being handled by Woodburn-based Kerr Construction.

According to Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake, once completed, the eastbound and westbound thoroughfares of Highway 8 — which runs through Cornelius on the route between Hillsboro and Forest Grove — will look essentially the same. The westbound portion of Highway 8 was renovated in 2009.

“The (Baseline Street) roadway will mirror Adair Street, which runs westward through town,” Drake said.

With the road being rebuilt, the city is taking the opportunity to replace aging, and in some cases inadequate, infrastructure under the roadway. Storm, sewer and water lines are being replaced in the corridor, and there will be visual enhancements as well.

“Most of the power lines will be undergrounded, open ditches will be removed and we will have buried storm lines,” Drake said. “Since the road was being torn up, this is the perfect time to do this type of work.”

Over the past couple weeks, crews have been digging trenches and installing ductile-iron pipes for the city’s water distribution system. The city will also be installing new streetlights that incorporate a hooked design.

“This will also allow us to add the hanging flower baskets each summer, like on Adair Street,” Drake said.

And for motorists who are weary of the roadway being restricted to one lane; having to drive over steel plates here and there; and the torn up, bumpy asphalt they are driving on, take heart. It will all be over soon.

“The project is scheduled to be completed this summer,” Crowell said.

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