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Design in the works for Villa Road upgrades

Housing development or not, improvements are coming to the major collector street


There are a lot of unanswered questions about what a stretch of Villa Road will look like in the next few years as the proposed Martell Commons high-density development has yet to go through the design review process that will reveal its appearance to the public. But one thing’s for certain: the roadway will receive much-needed improvements, whether the development comes to fruition or not.

Villa Road improvements have been in the city’s transportation system plan since 2005 and are identified as a priority. Now they have entered into the design process with construction planned to go out to bid in summer 2016.GARY ALLEN - Problem point - The train trestle over Villa Road has been referred to as a ‘pinch point' of sorts, especially in connection with the traffic increase that could be brought on with the new high-density housing development called Martell Commons.

Stretching from Haworth Avenue to Crestview Drive, the improvements are expected to provide several fixes to longstanding problems.

“The total length of roadway to be improved is approximately 2,300 feet of two-way roadway with no bike lane, curb or sidewalks, and poor pavement condition,” according to a project report by the city.

While the plans are likely to change during the design process, the initial thinking for the project was that the roadway would be widened to about 54 feet, which would include two 12-foot travel lanes, two 5-foot bike paths, two 5-foot landscape strips including the curb and two 5-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road, according to the project report.

However, as the design is still in the works and the city engineering department has stated it is uncertain whether both sides of the street will support sidewalks and bike lanes, one side definitely will.

The improvement project was discussed at length at the July 6 Newberg City Council meeting. As councilors were simply tasked with giving formal approval to a contract for the design services, and therefore the issue could have gone under the “consent agenda” section of the meeting which does not generally involve much discussion, City Manager Jacque Betz explained that the item was strategically moved to the “new business” section where it would be talked about before voting. That was done, she said, because of the abnormally large audience present at the meeting for another item of business — the council’s approval of the Martell Commons development on Villa Road that would be directly involved with the improvement project should the development move forward.

“Given our audience this evening we wanted to proactively get some information out there about the improvements we’ll be doing at Villa Road,” Betz said.

Some of the objections neighbors raised toward the development project at past meetings revolved around the unsuitability of Villa Road in its current condition to withstand the estimated 700 additional daily trips the development would add to the road, according to the developer, DJ2 Holdings.

At the meeting it was stressed that the improvements will go forward with or without the development. However, if it does get built some of the costs will be assumed by the developer.

“Assuming the project goes forward, they will pay their fair share of those improvement costs,” City Engineer Kaaren Hofmann said at the meeting.

Areas where the engineering department expects the roadway not to support improvements on both sides include the frontage of the development, which would likely require the installation of a median in the road, and the crossing under the railroad trestle, a stretch that carries a narrower clearance between each side of the road.

The project has been divided into phases, with Phase 1 spanning from Haworth Avenue to Park Lane and Phase 2 continuing to Crestview Drive.

While the entirety of the first phase design will be completed with this project, due to funding constraints only 30 percent of Phase 2 will be designed at this point. The rest of that phase could either be taken care of through a future project when more funds are available, or possibly as the current project gets underway if more funds become available.

“We just didn’t want to walk into it already over budget,” Hofmann said.

As it stands that 30 percent of the second phase will lay out the alignment of the project to determine how much right-of-way the city will need to purchase to carry out the improvements.

“The concern in that location is the fact that there are a lot of properties close to the roadway and how much right-of-way we might have to acquire makes us say we’ll do 30 percent, see where we’re at and re-evaluate whether we can move forward with the construction and right-of-way acquisition on that piece, or do we need to phase that and push that piece out a little bit further,” Hofmann said at the July 6 meeting.

Councilors were also tasked with voting on whether to authorize a $520,938 contract with consulting firm Murray Smith & Associates to provide design services for the project. The full design plans are projected to be completed by May 2016.

The entire improvement project, including both phases carried through final construction, carries a price tag of $3.2 million.

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