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Hwy. 43, 10th Street on radar for fixes


West Linn is applying for state transportation grants for projects

If you’ve ever navigated the 10th Street and Interstate 205 interchange during rush hour or driven along Highway 43 when school gets out, you’ve no doubt been frustrated with the lines of traffic, the lack of connected sidewalks and limited signals.

The city of West Linn is attempting to address some of those issues by applying for a grant through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Every four years, the state transportation department opens for grant applications. The upcoming grant window is for projects from fiscal years 2015 to 2018, and there is $65 million up for grabs in the Portland metro area. West Linn wants to snag $9.52 million of it.

Lance Calvert, city public works director/city engineer, said the competition for the transportation grants is tough, with only $16 million available a year, split between four counties and many cities.

“It doesn’t go far,” Calvert said of the funding. “The grants are very competitive. ... However, you don’t win if you don’t play.”

Though there are no complete designs for either project, the city has identified a number of potential enhancement projects in its approved 2008 transportation system plan (TSP).

Currently, at the 10th Street and freeway interchange, traffic backs up on Willamette Falls Drive and the Salamo Road side of the intersection. The Eighth Street corner is also difficult for vehicles to navigate.

According to a Nov. 9 memo from Calvert to the city manager: “Several intersections currently fail to meet city and ODOT mobility standards and traffic studies have shown that, without changes, this area will fail to meet any mobility standards in the near future.”

The city is looking to add lanes, make new street connections and add traffic signals, pedestrian sidewalks and bike lanes.

In its transportation plan, the city has identified $20 million worth of potential improvements along Highway 43; however, it has selected projects totaling $6 million. Calvert said the application addresses sidewalk connectivity, bike routes, center turn lanes and access controls.

“Our proposal selects several TSP projects in conjunction with an overall pedestrian and bicycle connectivity plan to provide a cost-effective and comprehensive plan that benefits all modes of transportation along Highway 43,” Calvert wrote in the memo.

Although the repaving of the pothole-riddled road is not part of the grant, Calvert said there is potential to fix sections of the road where proposed projects are slated.

Calvert called the $6 million project phase one of a long-term plan to address Highway 43’s problems, focusing on eliminating gaps in sidewalks and bike lanes and addressing high-traffic locations.

Calvert said the grant process is new this year, with all the project types thrown into one big pot and a selection committee weeding through them. Previously, grants were broken down by project type (e.g., pedestrian, bike, signals). The grants are split into two groups, “fix it” and “enhancement.” ODOT is in charge of picking the fix it projects. Both of West Linn’s applications fall into the enhancement category.

“The selection committee has a really tough job ahead of them,” Calvert said. “We’ll see how it goes and hope for the best.”

Though the grant applications were due to the state by Tuesday, the city won’t hear the final verdict until 2014.

As part of the grant process, applicants must contribute a minimum match of 10.27 percent. However, Calvert has urged the city to offer up 15 percent to be competitive with other applications. For the 10th Street interchange, the city’s share would be $780,000, and it would be $900,000 for the Highway 43 project.

The city has identified funds from the street and system development charges as sources of funding.

“We’d like to see these projects get funded and move forward,” Calvert said. “We are doing what we can, but there’s a lot competing interest in these funds.”

The West Linn City Council passed a resolution during its Nov. 19 meeting to move forward with the grant applications.

“I’d certainly love to see us get this money,” Councilor Jody Carson said. “Both projects are projects we’d like to see go ahead.”

“We know the transportation dollars are scarce,” Mayor John Kovash said.