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Summer construction to tear up State Street

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Next phase of water pipeline installation will run from B Avenue south to the railroad tracks near Lake View Village


SUBMITTED PHOTO - Final paving work in the First Addition neighborhood and B Avenue business district is finished. Crews now will begin installing pipe along State Street in downtown Lake Oswego.If you’re planning to spend much time downtown this summer, the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership has some good news and some bad news.

The good news: Final paving of B Avenue through parts of the First Addition neighborhood and the business district has been completed.

The bad news: The next phase of construction for the $254 million project, which is designed to upgrade and increase the capacity of Lake Oswego’s water system and give Tigard direct access to water for the first time in its history, is about to begin.

And that means the part of State Street that runs through the city’s downtown core is going to be torn up for at least a couple of months.

In fact, this phase of the project will include not only the stretch of State Street between B Avenue and the railroad tracks near Lake View Village, but also construction in the Old Town neighborhood, the Oswego Village shopping center and George Rogers Park.

“There’s a lot of restrictions with the timing,” partnership spokeswoman Katy Fulton says. “For instance, the contractor can only work in the park at certain times, to minimize the impact to use of the park. The contractor is also working to be out of the Oswego Village shopping center by the end of October. They’re working within different constraints for each portion.

“Unfortunately,” she says, “they’ll be moving around a little bit, but that’s just the way it goes.”

Last week, crews began final paving work on Highway 43 where workers installed almost two miles of pipe between Lake Oswego and West Linn.

“In terms of Highway 43, crews have finished disinfecting the pipe and have started final paving of the lane where the pipe was installed, going from Mapleton Drive (in West Linn) north into Lake Oswego (at Laurel Street),” Fulton says.

Final paving is taking place at night and is scheduled to be complete in mid-July, barring any weather delays, according to Fulton.

“They will only pave the lane where the pipe was installed,” Fulton says. “It will go beyond the lane in some locations, like when the pipe crosses from one side of the road to the other. In those instances, they will pave wider, but it’s all under (Oregon Department of Transportation) specifications.”

The completion of Highway 43 work will come as welcome relief for drivers, who have frequently complained about poor road conditions causing damage to their vehicles.

“That will be good,” Fulton says. “Once it’s nicely paved, I’m sure it will be a very nice ride for people.”

But just as pipeline construction on that section of Highway 43 nears its end, crews will begin to tear up State Street between B Avenue and the railroad tracks just south of Lake View Village. That means nighttime construction will return, with crews working Sunday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Downtown digging

One lane of traffic on State Street will remain open in each direction during construction, and flaggers will be present to guide traffic. During the day, all travel lanes will be open and steel plates will be placed in the road to make for smoother travel.

Pedestrians will still have access to businesses on State Street and the sidewalks will be open during construction. But it’s going to be noisy at night: Excavators, loaders and dump trucks will rumble through the area, delivering or removing pipe, gravel, steel plates, dirt and rock.

To mitigate noise, the beep-beep-beep of backup alarms will be disabled on vehicles, officials say, and generators and compressors will be located as far from residences as possible. This leg of construction is scheduled to start in mid-July, the partnership’s Jordan Imlah says, pending delivery of pipeline materials.

From there, things get interesting: Partnership crews will need to work day and night during one 48-hour period, most likely on a weekend, to install pipe beneath the railroad tracks that cross State Street.

“Trains are being put on a late schedule or rerouted,” Imlah says, for work that will most likely happen in late July or early August.

After the pipeline has been installed beneath the tracks and under State Street, installation will continue — most likely this fall and winter — along part of Foothills Road, through the Oswego Village Shopping Center, down Durham and Ladd streets in the Old Town neighborhood and across George Rogers Park.

Construction of the stretch from the railroad tracks to the shopping center will happen at night. Crews will then switch to daytime hours — Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. — as the pipe progresses along Durham and Ladd streets and through the park.

“(Crews) do have to go through the park, but not during the busy season,” Imlah says. “They’ll wait until (activity in) the park dies down,” probably in November.

At the same time, crews will begin construction at Erickson Street and McVey Avenue, keeping nighttime hours until they cross State Street and connect to the pipe in the park, probably in late 2015.

With all of the pipeline installation, road surfaces will be temporarily patched until the pipeline is finished and tested. Permanent paving is expected in early 2016.

“We understand it can be really frustrating with construction, and we appreciate everyone’s patience,” Fulton says. “Safety’s our first priority, so we just ask that the traveling public obeys flaggers’ instructions and makes sure to drive slowly through the construction areas.”

Questions remain

The entire Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership project is generally on schedule, but it has not been without setbacks. The partnership announced in January, for example, that there would be a nine-month delay on upgrades and expansion of a water treatment plant in West Linn’s Robinwood neighborhood.

The plant, operated by Lake Oswego since 1968, currently pumps 16 million gallons of water per day. When it is completed next summer, it will have the capacity to store up to 2 million gallons of water underground and will pump 38 million gallons daily, serving both Lake Oswego and Tigard and providing an emergency water source for West Linn.

The current “Phase B” portion of plant construction now is scheduled to be complete in spring 2016, with final completion of the plant expected by early 2017. Fulton says construction of the plant is now 60 percent complete.

“We’re still on target to pump water by the summer of 2016,” Fulton says. “The plant will be able to produce enough water at that stage this time next year.”

The project delays aren’t sitting well with the City of West Linn, whose City Council voted earlier this month to hire an attorney to explore whether the city has any legal recourse to hold the partnership to an earlier timetable. But other aspects of the project have continued mostly on time, with the Waluga 2 reservoir in Lake Oswego going online last month.

In addition to increasing reservoir capacity, Waluga 2 was constructed at an elevation high enough to improve water pressure — a longstanding issue during peak demand periods, according to partnership officials. And the facility was built to provide additional peace of mind for Lake Oswego and Tigard water customers by meeting the latest structural and seismic codes.

Crews began upgrades to the original Waluga Reservoir facility this month.

Still to be determined is the short-term impact of drought conditions and the long-term affect of a Court of Appeals ruling that could restrict the amount of water the partnership can draw from the Clackamas River.

The court ruled in December 2014 that endangered salmon and steelhead were threatened by the amount of water planned to be drawn from the river, and it ordered the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Water Resources Department (OWRD) to connect the dots between the permit limits and preserving fish species in the river.

When the Court of Appeals announced its ruling, project director Joel Komarek said the decision would not have an impact on the project. But with the clock ticking for 2016, Tigard is looking at possible backup plans, including getting its water from Portland — as it has for decades — or from Beaverton.

It’s unclear what effect that would have on water rates in Lake Oswego, or when the state agencies will make their decision.

Racquel Rancier, a spokeswoman with the Water Resources Department, said there was no timeline on when the OWRD will return with its findings.

“We are working on determining how to proceed,” she said in March. “The only official quote I can give would be that based on the court’s decision, we are working on how to proceed.”

Komarek said the cities would like to hear from OWRD by the end of the year.

“They understand what our timeline is,” he said in March, “and at this point, there is no reason to believe that they won’t respond appropriately and timely enough so that, come 2016, we don’t have to worry about whether or not to divert more water than we had expected.”

Contact Saundra Sorenson at 503-636-1281 ext. 107 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..