Rail crossing some considered one of the most dangerous along WES line being brought in synch with traffic lights
by: Jaime Valdez, A new traffic light and a pre-signal light will be erected at the intersection of Bonita Road and 74th Avenue in Tigard at a cost of $228,000. Due to traffic speeds and the track configuration, the crossing is considered one of the more dangerous along the Westside Express Service route from Wilsonville to Beaverton.

TIGARD - A dangerous scenario that pitted heavy motor traffic, entrenched businesses and the looming arrival of TriMet's fast-moving Westside Express Service trains will be fixed by adding and synchronizing traffic lights at the intersection of Bonita Road and 74th Avenue.

The resolution was reached in October and is expected to cost $228,000, a 55 percent reduction from the projected $500,000 proposed for the same solution a month earlier.

Chris Novotny, a public relations manager for TriMet, said the cost reduction is the result of fine-tuning of the project by the agency's traffic consultant, DKS Associates.

'The initial cost estimate was done without value engineering [the project],' Novotny said.

Several agencies, including the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet and the city of Tigard, are chipping in to ready the intersection for commuter rail traffic.

When completed, the new controls will operate similar to a drawbridge, such that motor traffic will be absent at the rail crossings when trains approach.

'That's the intent of it, is that one light turns and that allows clear-out time so that no cars get stuck on the tracks,' Novotny said.

She added that the Bonita Road and 74th Avenue crossing is one of the more worrisome for planners due to the high volume of motor traffic and speeds in the area.

TriMet had at first intended to pay $114,000 toward the traffic light fix, but had to up that amount by an additional $39,000 when total contributions came in shy of the final cost. The city of Tigard is contributing $50,000 and ODOT has pledged $25,000.

TriMet and Washington County chipped in together to pick up the shortfall, Novotny said.

At first, the Oregon Department of Transportation, which has regulatory authority over the crossing, proposed construction of a median island that would have closed out left-turn access to and from 74th Avenue, spurring a backlash from the business community.

The traffic light fix costs $135,000 more than the median solution. Both are rated at the same safety level, according to a DKS Associates report.

Some business owners, such as Kim and Stan Prosser, who run Precision Door Service out of the Fanno Acre Business Park, said the median would have forced them to pull anchor and move.

'It's a good example of people working together to come up with a solution,' said Kim Prosser, who with her husband, Stan, runs Precision Door Service out of the Fanno Acre Business Park.

Reaching consensus on the fix came about from a series of meetings going back to February last year.

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