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Road around Hagg Lake gets matching federal funds

COURTESY MAP - This map shows the area of Scoggins Valley Park -- five miles of West Shore Drive -- that will see improvements thanks to $5.8 million in matching federal funds.Motorists and users of Scoggins Valley Park will benefit from $5.8 million in federal money that Washington County will match with $5.7 million to improve five miles of West Shore Drive along Henry Hagg Lake.

Combined with county maintenance already underway on Scoggins Valley Road, the work will make the perimeter roads safer both for residents and almost 1 million annual visitors to Scoggins Valley Park and Hagg Lake.

“This is a much-needed investment that will provide for safe access to the park and surrounding community that would have been a real challenge without this federal support,” says Chairman Andy Duyck of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

According to county estimates, daily traffic averages 1,700 vehicles, and peak season daily traffic averages 2,900. Virtually all use (87 percent) is for access to the park, and 50 percent of traffic originates from outside Washington County.

The $11.5 million will be spent on stabilizing some landslide areas, replacing culverts, upgrading guardrails and laying down new pavement on the road and shoulders. The work is similar to what the county is doing on Scoggins Valley Road, where culverts have been replaced.

“We will do our best to optimize the existing pavement width to accommodate bike lanes,” says Stephen Cruise, environmental resource specialist and program manager with the Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation.HILLSBORO TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Scoggins Dam at Henry Hagg Lake

The work on West Shore Drive is scheduled in two phases over the next two years and will be completed by 2018.

The federal share comes from the Federal Lands Access Program, which aids local governments in road and transit access to high-use recreation sites that boost the economy.

The county requires parking passes for Scoggins Valley Park, but does not charge fees or issue permits for travel on the perimeter roads.

The federal money cannot be used to plan or develop a campground that has been discussed.

“The Bureau of Reclamation and county are in the early stages of formulating a funding strategy for the future development of a campground,” says county spokesman Philip Bransford. “Any funding strategy will rely on the commitment of both federal and local resources.”

The perimeter roads around Hagg Lake have not undergone maintenance in a decade, because of uncertainty about the future of Scoggins Dam, built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation back in 1975. Some previous plans would have raised the dam’s height by up to 40 feet to store additional water, but also would flood much of the perimeter roads.

Under legislation Congress approved late in 2015, the bureau is directed to study and identify a preferred alternative that would result in both additional storage for future water needs and a structure capable of withstanding a magnitude 9.0 earthquake originating off the Oregon coast.

That could result in building a dam at a different location or strengthening of the existing dam.

Scoggins Dam is one of three in Oregon — the others are in Southern Oregon — atop the list of those for seismic safety considerations.

“Investing scarce maintenance dollars on roads that were likely to be under water didn't make good sense,” said Andrew Singelakis, county director of land use and transportation.

“But now that has changed, and we've got some extensive — and expensive — repairs to complete. This is a good example of what happens when roads aren’t regularly maintained. The longer roads go without maintenance, the more expensive they are to repair.”

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