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Washington Co. OKs $175 million for roads

Property taxes will fund improvements over five years

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - New pavement on Basalt Creek Parkway facing the east shows the new road being built towards Southwest Grahams Ferry Road.Washington County commissioners have approved a five-year transportation plan to spend $175 million, most of which will go toward road work.

Funded projects include an improved interchange on Highway 217, widening of Walker Road, and new bike lanes.

The plan, approved Oct. 4, represents the latest round of projects funded by property taxes dating back to 1986.

The plan received more than 1,300 comments from an online open house and three in-person open houses earlier this year.

“I continue to be impressed with the process, the collaborative nature of how we develop these projects and how we come to a consensus on what is really important in this county,” Board Chairman Andy Duyck said.

The plan will last from 2018 to 2023.

Most of the money ($160 million) will go to 23 road projects — also benefiting bicyclists, pedestrians and transit — distributed among the four commissioner districts. They were whittled down from an initial list of 34 projects totaling $240 million.

“Projects selected for funding must improve safety and traffic flow on major roads and address demands for vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and/or transit,” said Andrew Singelakis, county director of land use and transportation.

The other $15 million will be spent as follows:

• $7.5 million available to match grants with other local, state and federal transportation funds.

• $7 million for replacement of rural bridges. County officials say there is a backlog of bridge work amounting to $120 million, and that 81 of 184 county-maintained bridges are rated as deficient.

• $500,000 for traffic signals, driver information signs and management of traffic-lane use under the category of “intelligent transportation systems.”

The program, known as the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program, originally was funded through a series of property tax levies in 1986, 1989 and 1991.

Although voter-approved changes in Oregon property taxes 20 years ago rolled those levies into a single amount for county government, commissioners have continued to honor the program’s original intent by setting aside a portion of property taxes for such improvements.

Including the latest round, the program has set aside $900 million for 150 projects since it began 30 years ago.

Find out more

List of approved projects: