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South Hillsboro no longer just a vision

With what is in effect a new city being born, roads, traffic and transportation remain among the key issues on the minds of many of the roughly 100 citizens who attended the final public open house for the planned South Hillsboro area last week.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Nearly 100 citizens turned out June 26 at Rosedale Elementary School for a public input meeting on the latest plans for the South Hillsboro planning area.

But as the new community moves closer to being a reality, city planners are working to make sure the transport of people and goods into and out of the area is well planned.

South Hillsboro includes 1,400 acres of land south of Tualatin Valley Highway between Southwest 209th Avenue and 234th Avenue. For now, the property is a wide expanse of farmland and open space, with a handful of home sites. Bonneville Power Administration power lines run north to south and Butternut and Gordon creeks run east to west.

Planners are working to build a cohesive master plan to present to the city of Hillsboro’s planning commission. The planning document will include land use ideas, housing opportunities, infrastructure and phasing and — top priority in many citizens’ minds — major road alignments into and through the South Hillsboro region.

Transportation and traffic concerns are the biggest issues brought to the table by citizens involved in the planning process, said Jeannine Rustad, project manager for the South Hillsboro plan. At full build-out, the area could have as many as 11,000 dwelling units, and about 30,000 residents, according to Rustad.

“But we’re refining the process as we go,” she said.

Road construction to literally pave the way for South Hillsboro could begin as early as next summer, Rustad said. That’s when Cornelius Pass Road is expected to be extended south from where it now comes to an end at Tualatin Valley Highway. The extended Cornelius Pass Road is intended to be the planned “gateway” into the new community.

An early proposal to build an overpass over TV Highway was scrapped due to the immense costs involved. Instead, the road will enter South Hillsboro where it crosses the tracks of the Portland & Western Railroad with a “grade level” crossing.

To provide for the new crossing, Rustad said, three private railroad crossings along Tualatin Valley Highway, as well as the existing public crossing at 229th Avenue, will be permanently closed.

The closure at 229th Avenue creates a need for alternative access to 229th Avenue, where Rosedale Elementary School is located. Blanton and Alexander streets, running east-west, will be extended and improved to create better access for school buses, emergency vehicles and cars.

Additional road improvements expected later will include improving the intersection at TV Highway and 209th Avenue for higher traffic capacity at the east boundary of South Hillsboro; widening Cornelius Pass Road to five lanes from TV Highway to Southeast Francis Street; and realigning Southeast 229th to 234th Avenue/Century Boulevard. Further into the future, there are plans to build a bridge over wetlands to extend Century Boulevard north to Southeast Baseline Road.

Cornelius Pass south to Rosedale Road will be extended “as development occurs,” Rustad said. The road is considered a major road that carries “regional traffic,” not just South Hillsboro traffic, she explained, so the entire cost of extension will not be placed on developers.

‘Changes happen’

Russ and Donna Dusky own approximately four acres at the corner of 234th and Davis. Although they don’t live on the land, Russ said, his interest in the planning revolves around the siting of the realigned 229th/234th, which could be directly adjacent to or on part of his land.

“Changes happen,” he said.

Dave and Judy Corbin’s land backs up to the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club, just outside of the South Hillsboro planning area.

“We are interested in the future traffic patterns as they develop in the area, as we drive the area roads every day,” Dave said. “The planned improvements will definitely help traffic flow in the future.”

South Hillsboro plans call for a mix of high, medium and low density housing, mixed-use commercial and residential buildings and a variety of parks and open space.

Seven sites for parks are set aside, and the Butternut Creek area will allow for open spaces, including the possibility of a new regional trail.

Once plans are in place, building in South Hillsboro will likely begin with the “town center” area along TV Highway near Cornelius Pass Road, and continue from there to the south.

The Hillsboro School District has purchased land for two new elementary schools; an elementary/middle school campus; and has the option to purchase 10 more acres in the area for another elementary school.

The district purchased 40 acres of land for $2.25 million in April for what will be the district’s fifth high school. That land is located just south of the South Hillsboro boundary, at 22520 S.W. Rosedale Road, south of Rosedale Road.

Rustad said the next steps include getting amendments to the South Hillsboro plans — zoning and annexing the land into the city — adopted by late fall.

A big question facing the city, Rustad said, is how the many transportation improvements will be funded.

“What’s the county’s share, the city’s share, the developers’ share?” Rustad wondered.