Hoping to get a head start on the county’s transportation needs in an area with a high rate of growth, state and local dignitaries celebrated the start of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s $45 million U.S. Highway 26 Brookwood Parkway/Helvetia Interchange project Oct. HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - State Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) cuts a ceremonial cake Oct. 28 as dignitaries launch a $45 million reconstruction project that will rebuild the Brookwood Parkway/Helvetia Interchange of Highway 26 north of Hillsboro. The work is being funded by money from the Oregon Jobs & Transportation Act. Left to right with Starr are ODOT Director Matthew Garrett; Tim Hendrix of Wildish Standard Paving; Karmen Fore, Gov. John Kitzhabers transportation adviser; Teresa Dunham of the Westside Economic Alliance; Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey; and County Commission Chairman Andy Duyck.

The project is designed to improve traffic flow and safety in an area that is considered to be a vital part of Washington County’s fast-growing industrial corridor. The $45 million price tag includes $23 million for the interchange project itself and $22 million for related transportation improvements in the area.

“This project is all about anticipating future growth in Washington County,” explained Don Hamilton, ODOT’s public information officer for the Portland region. “There has been tremendous growth in the area, particularly from Intel. There are 850 acres in the area designated as industrial land recently, and this very definitely improves the transportation picture. We worked very closely with our local partners to help ease a significant choke point.”

The interchange has become increasingly important because it serves as an entry point to Washington County’s high tech companies.

Typically, Highway 26 sees heavy traffic from westbound Highway 26 to southbound Brookwood Parkway in the morning commute, and heavy northbound traffic on Brookwood Parkway to eastbound Highway 26 during the afternoon peak.

“The Highway 26/Brookwood/Helevetia Interchange project is critically important as Hillsboro continues to grow with new residents and industrial development,” said state Sen. Bruce Starr, who attended last week’s celebration. “Investing in transportation infrastructure builds a foundation for continued economic growth and prosperity for western Washington County.”

Key elements of the project include:

? Constructing a new exit loop ramp from westbound Highway 26 to southbound Brookwood Parkway;

? Rebuilding the entrance ramp to the westbound Highway 26 ramp from Helvetia Road;

? Widening the Brookwood Parkway bridge over Highway 26. When completed, there will be two northbound lanes, three southbound lanes and a left turn lane on the bridge;

? Adding sidewalks and bike lanes in the interchange area; and

? Extending the northbound right-turn lane from Brookwood Parkway to the eastbound Highway 26 entrance ramp.

Work on the highway interchange is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2015.

Wildish Standard Paving, based in Eugene, is the primary contractor.

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