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Council briefed on Highway 43 progress

Hearings for new conceptual design plan targeted in August, September

TIDINGS PHOTO: LESLIE PUGMIRE HOLE - ODOT has tentatively recommended about $1 million for West Linn's Highway 43 but that money will only pay for the design phase. West Linn’s much discussed Highway 43 Conceptual Design Plan project is nearing completion.

Public Works Director Lance Calvert presented the latest project details at a City Council work session July 18, and noted that the goal is to begin formal hearings in August.

“We’re approaching the end here of the Highway 43 plan update, and moving into the formal adoption and hearing schedule,” Calvert said. “Tentatively we have hearings scheduled for the Planning Commission Aug. 3 and the City Council on Sept. 12.”

The Highway 43 Conceptual Design Plan was originally written and approved in 2008, and according to the City’s webpage for the project, the update is intended to “build on the work done to develop the existing plan with refinements to take into account innovative designs and create a plan that we can implement.”

Among the proposed improvements to the busy road are buffered cycle tracks — pathways shielded by a physical barrier to protect riders from traffic — as well as improved pedestrian facilities and the addition of a center lane for left turns.

If approved, the new Highway 43 plan would be incorporated into the City’s Transportation Systems Plan (TSP), which was also updated in March. Further, the City plans to incorporate changes to both the Comprehensive Plan and Community Development Code to better reflect the new TSP and Highway 43 plans.

“We’re about a month behind where we really should be, but that’s not too far behind considering the scale and size of the project,” Calvert said.

Much of the discussion at the July 18 meeting centered on a harsh truth: For all of West Linn’s planning, Highway 43 is still owned and operated by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). However, Calvert said that — unlike years past — “ODOT has been a key contributor to the development of this plan.”

“One of the things I think was missing from the 2008 plan was having ODOT at the table all the way through the process,” Calvert said. “In fact, we’re still getting comments from ODOT.”

Back in February, the Highway 43 project — which is expected to cost about $20 million — was announced as one of six applications included on ODOT Region 1’s “150 percent list” for funding.

The list marks the first cutoff point for funding requests and — as the name suggests — accounts for 50 percent more funding than ODOT has available for 2019-2021. Projects included on the final “100 percent” list are guaranteed funding.

The City requested $3 million in STIP funds for Phase One of the project, which would cover the area of Highway 43 between Lake Oswego and Hidden Springs Road, and in June ODOT tentatively recommended the allocation of about $1.1 million for Highway 43. That money, if formally awarded this fall, would be marked exclusively for design and right of way use as opposed to actual construction.

“That’s the first time the City has ever gotten funding in that process,” Calvert said. “But that still doesn’t build anything, so as we look to build stuff we will be applying, at the direction of the council, for regional flexible funds from Metro, which is sort of the next grant pot of money that’s available for construction funding for that first phase of improvements.”

That funding would also be allocated between 2019 and 2021, Calvert said.

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..