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Gladstone blasts Lake Oswego's plan to dig a trench across McLoughlin at night

Gladstone's elected officials didn't mince words this week in their displeasure over Lake Oswego's request for another noise variance to construct a pipeline pumping Clackamas River water to West Linn.

Lake Oswego's construction woes have become notorious among citizens, and its attempt on July 14 to get permission for nighttime construction near homes was too much for Gladstone councilors who see Lake Oswego's project as having committed another mistake. A geotechnical analysis that failed to notice boulders in the way of microtunneling is the latest incident that city councilors are now considering a fiasco.

"Trenchless methods for installing pipe such as tunneling, pipe ramming, auger boring and horizontal directional drilling are often at risk of unknown ground conditions," said Katy Fulton, spokeswoman for the Lake Oswego Tigard Water Partnership. "Often times, until the ground is excavated or opened up, the ground conditions are not known."

Unexpectedly large boulders put contractors in the bind between hundreds of people trying to sleep and businesses trying to operate on McLoughlin Boulevard.

"It quite honestly looks like the Three Stooges got loose and ran industrial equipment and made one hell of a mess," said Councilor Steve Johnson. "Since Lake Oswego has invaded our fine city, and I do mean that, it has destroyed a bridge, it has disrespectfully and arrogantly done an end-around of our Planning Commission design review standards for a pump station, it has turned our nice (Meldrum Bar) Park into an industrial work site, and now wants to disrupt our neighbors' sleep for two months and destroy our newly paved McLoughlin Boulevard."

The new water intake structure was built next to the now-demolished Trolley Bridge that residents had hoped to convert into a pedestrian pathway across the Clackamas River. Lake Oswego officials have repeatedly said the collapse had nothing to do with their project, that the problems with the bridge had long been documented with its owner, Union Pacific Railroad. Now doubting any story from Lake Oswego, Councilors Kim Sieckmann and Neal Reisner are previous Planning Commission members who discovered soon after the troubling collapse that the intake structure size and design wasn't what they thought they had approved.

"I also have concerns about trust, huge concerns about trust," Reisner said. "We'll have to put up with that structure at the end of Portland Avenue for a long time, which is nothing like what you promised."

Lake Oswego officials pointed to the fact that Gladstone's own lawyer determined that the city had seen the most updated version of Lake Oswego's design. Johnson explained his statement about the "end-around," saying Gladstone's contract planner at the county, Clay Glasgow, met with LO officials and approved all changes that LO requested. Glasgow only brought the changes back before the Planning Commission when questions about the appearance of the pump house building began.

As councilors voted 4-2 to deny the noise variance request, Gladstone's attorney warned that the discussion of the nighttime work permit should focus on what city code allows, rather than dredging up old scores.

"It's going to go to litigation if we try to hold it up too long just to make a point," said Councilor Pat McMahon.

"Some of the prior issues that we are dealing with, gentleman, the train has left the station," said Mayor Dominick Jacobellis. "I would be OK with them getting the nighttime variance to move on and to get this done."

Last year the council approved longer nighttime construction hours to accommodate Lake Oswego contractors. The council is denying the latest request pending a July 28 public hearing and more evidence that the contractor has no other options for doing the noisy surface trenching across McLoughlin Boulevard starting at 10 p.m. After the boulders threw a monkeywrench into plans to microtunnel across McLoughlin, a Lake Oswego consultant considers the surface trenching the best option.

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