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'Permanent patching' of Highway 43 set to begin in March — a small consolation for drivers fed up by the ravaged road


Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - In March, one of the two LOT road crews will be reassigned to concentrate exclusively on paving Highway 43. Road conditions have been frequently cited as a concern from residents and city officials alike. In the midst of a discussion about the future of the Robinwood Community Center on Monday night, Robinwood Neighborhood Association President Kazi Ahmed made an offhand reference to the road conditions in the area as a result of the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership (LOT) project.

The City Council was discussing the process of ensuring that the community center met city codes, and Ahmed saw a contradiction.

“Look down Highway 43 — how many codes are being violated?” he said. “Or go to Mapleton (Drive) and look at those codes. Currently, codes are getting broken, violated. That has to get addressed.”

Such is the nature of discourse surrounding the now-delayed LOT project; it now permeates into discussions of entirely different matters. In the weeks since LOT announced a 9-month delay in the expansion and replacement of the water treatment plant in West Linn, neighbors have expressed outrage over both the extended timeline and the road conditions in the area, which were described as “completely unacceptable” by City Council President Thomas Frank at a Feb. 9 meeting with LOT officials.

The deteriorated road conditions on Highway 43 are the result of ongoing pipeline installation, a key facet of the $250 million project that will provide a water connection between Lake Oswego, Tigard and West Linn. Temporary re-paving efforts and steel plates have been used to keep the road operational during daytime hours, but residents have said that the bumpy conditions are dangerous and cause damage to their vehicles.

According to spokesperson Katy Fulton, LOT is aware of the problem and — beginning sometime this month — will take additional measures to mitigate the road damage.

Both road crews are working in West Linn right now, and will soon be too close to continue working separately.

“So one crew will remain to install the rest of the pipe, and one will be a paving crew that will put in a more permanent paving patch,” Fulton said. “That will improve the conditions of the road.”

That upgraded paving, which Fulton called “permanent patching,” will be done in portions of 750 feet as opposed to the 100 feet that is currently done each night of construction. It is expected to begin next week.

“It makes it a lot easier when you can patch a larger area,” Fulton said. “Right now, each night they are paving back over the work they’ve done and it’s not a smooth transition. This is more of a larger pavement patch, but it’s still temporary.”

The final paving of Highway 43 won’t take place until this summer, once the pipeline is complete and LOT has tested it to ensure that it is operational.

“Later in the summer when the pipe is tested, then they will do a full-lane width paving - the entire lane where the piping was done,” Fulton said.

The paving won’t take place on all of Highway 43, Fulton noted — just in the lanes where the pipeline was laid. Since the pipeline crosses lanes several times, the paving will be done at somewhat unusual cross sections along the highway.

“There’s several times where the pipe crosses over, so where it crosses, that will be paved too,” Fulton said.

In the meantime, drivers are urged to continue to use caution while driving on the road.

“We’ve heard from many, many people about the condition of the road, and we do reiterate that it’s temporary,” Fulton said. “The steel plates and temporary pavement patches are present and we are trying to get the message out to drive at lower speeds.”

Still, that message from LOT that the road conditions are just temporary falls short of comforting residents who have to brave the rough stretch of Highway 43, many of whom have opposed the LOT project from its inception. “Highway 43 through West Linn and Marylhurst has been the most bone-jarring drive since the wagon ruts of pioneer days,” resident Janet Miles wrote in a letter to the editor published in this issue of the Tidings. “Some might say this is just a temporary inconvenience, but it has done nothing to alleviate the anger and frustration generated by the entire LOT project.”

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..