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Community weighs in on Boones Ferry

Design ideas range from practical to fanciful when residents gather for a project update

Turn the elephant sculpture so it faces more traffic. Install kiosks describing local history. Consider some kind of tribute to Sunn amplifiers, which were first invented at Carman Drive.

Those were just a few of the ideas voiced at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church last week during a community meeting to discuss the city’s Boones Ferry Road Project.

Nearly 40 people gathered for updates on the timeline of the project, which seeks not only to make Boones Ferry Road more safe and welcoming to pedestrian, bicycle and auto traffic, but also to meet less-tangible goalposts in improving streetscapes and character.

A long, colorful rendering hung on the wall with Post-It notes nearby, inviting participants to make design suggestions. Comments went up quickly: One note said the city would “need ambulance easy access” at the Madrona Street intersection; another requested “more plantings to alleviate people turning left onto Quarry Road (illegal currently) from Boones Ferry.”

Redevelopment Director Brant Williams hosted a PowerPoint presentation showing that improvements to Madrona Street would include a new pedestrian signal for safe crossing on all sides, and that an exclusive left-turn lane would be added to Bryant Road to “improve ease of left turn and increase safety.”

In addition, there would be more space in Boones Ferry’s southbound left-turn lane, along with signalized pedestrian crossings on all sides.

Upgrades to the intersection of Oakridge Road and Reese Road invited the most conversation, both approving and curious. According to current designs, the southbound left-turn lane will be lengthened to improve safety and allow for more vehicles, and the “dangerous left turn into the post office” will be eliminated.

Mike Buck, who sits on the Boones Ferry Road Project Advisory Committee, opened perhaps the most lively segment of the meeting when he introduced design efforts to “connect the roadway with its current surroundings and with its past.”

He asked attendees to be “co-authors” of this aspect of the design, reminding community members that the street was originally built as an arterial of sorts.

“Our goal is to keep people here,” Buck said.

From there, audience members were quick to toss out ideas for upgrading the roadside experience: swans; planting trillium; finding a way to incorporate the poetry of William Stafford; neighborhood flags that create a Lake Grove brand; unique signage for local businesses — “wrought iron, like in Europe,” one neighbor suggested. Others suggested incorporating more Douglas firs on the streetscape, or finding some way to commemorate the neighborhood’s native flock of peacocks.

The project is expected to be completed in 2018. Project development and preliminary design is ongoing through the year, with 2016 to mid-2017 marked off for the final design and right-of-way acquisition.

The $26.9 million project covers the stretch of Boones Ferry Road from Madrona Street to the intersection of Oakridge and Reese roads, and is being funded through $17.4 million in city bonds, $5 million from a general obligation bond, $4 million from an Oregon Department of Transportation Federal Grant and $500,000 from Transportation System Development charges.

For more information or to view designs for the project, visit boonesferryproject.org.