Tualatin Council to discuss transportation bond measure
Whether Tualatin should approach voters with a request to see if residents would be in favor of relieving congestion and addressing traffic safety problems around the city through a bond request will be the topic of a 5 p.m. work session set for Monday, Jan. 22.
That's when the Tualatin City Council will begin mulling whether to send anything from a $10 million to $28 million tax bond measure, paid through property taxes, to residents this spring.
The meeting is set at the Juanita Pohl Center, 8513 S.W. Tualatin Road.
City Manager Sherilyn Lombos said the council in October heard several options for addressing Tualatin's congestion and traffic problems, issues that have consistently been found to top the list of concerns of both the council and public alike.
"It's always at the forefront of our respective minds and it has been for a long time," Lombos said.
To that end, the city took the public's temperature on a transportation bond in November and December, gathering together stakeholder groups containing a cross section of city leaders and the community.
"What we found was near-unanimous support for a measure in 2018," said Alice Cannon, assistant city manager.
Those stakeholder gatherings were followed by transportation bond measure discussions with two focus groups as well as a subsequent telephone poll survey of 300 residents.
The focus groups showed that voters were generally satisfied with the community and city government but felt traffic congestion was a serious threat to livability. They also noted that congestion and cut-through traffic is impacting neighborhood safety.
Specifically, the telephone survey showed that 91 percent of those asked felt that traffic congestion problems in the city were serious or very serious. At the same time, 55 percent felt neighborhood traffic safety problems were serious or very serious.
What the telephone survey ultimately revealed was that 65 percent of those contacted would support a $14 million bond at an average cost to homeowners of $100 per year and that 60 percent would support a $28 million bond at a cost of $200 per year.
"That's a pretty good margin of support," Lombos said.
If the council decides it wants to approach voters, it could do so in May or November. However, if a May election is selected, the council would have to make a decision by its Feb. 12 meeting to get it on the ballot, city officials say.
Not surprisingly, Tualatin-Sherwood Road topped the list of what residents believe is the city's most congested street. (In 2015, Tualatin-Sherwood Road saw 44,000 trips per day through downtown Tualatin from I-5 to Boones Ferry Road, an amount city officials say has grown since that time.)
After Tualatin-Sherwood Road, citizens feel Boones Ferry Road, Martinazzi Avenue, Sagert Street and Nyberg Street, are congested as well, said Cannon.
"We also have a problem with safety," she said, noting that the city has only an $80,000 budget to fund neighborhood safety problems through such measures as adding flashing beacons at crosswalks or making sidewalk improvements.
Cannon said during discussions there were some debates among groups about whether the city could solve congestion programs but a majority felt a funding measure, including an added $100 a year to the average property tax bill was in order with one person going so far as "fist pumping" their support.
Meanwhile, topping the reasons for opposing a bond measure were the fact they cannot afford any more taxes followed by a belief that the biggest cause of congestion are new businesses moving into the city.
While specifics of what a possible bond would entail are still up in the air, Tualatin and Washington County transportation officials have previously discussed the possibility of removing median landscaping along Tualatin-Sherwood Road between Martinazzi Avenue and the I-5 interchange eastbound, and replacing it with another traffic lane to help reduce congestion.
Another congestion-relief suggestion that's been discussed is a plan to realign the entrances/exits of the Nyberg Rivers shopping complex (containing the Cabela's anchor and other stores) and the Fred Meyer store so they line up, allowing the light to remain on the same cycle, reducing the light-change time by as much as 30 seconds.