Lake Oswego postpones major project to repair Country Club Road
Residents and motorists along a portion of Country Club Road will have more time to prepare for an upcoming pavement restoration project that is likely to cause major traffic headaches.
Construction was originally planned to begin in the next couple of months on the 12,000-foot-long corridor between Tenth Street and Iron Mountain Boulevard, but City staff announced at a public hearing last week that the start date has been pushed back to late 2018 or early 2019.
The reason: timing, according to City Engineer Erica Rooney and Adam Crafts, an engineer with project design contractor Murraysmith.
The project will rip out the entire roadway and make a number of repairs to water, sewer and stormwater utility pipes underneath; crews will then rebuild the road from scratch in a process that is expected to last eight or nine months.
Ideally, Rooney said, construction should start in the winter so that the final repaving can be done in the summer. But the scope of the project kept growing as more utilities were added, and planners faced a rapidly closing window to finish the design and start construction in the current winter season. So the decision was made to delay everything by a year, Rooney said.
When it does start, though, the impact is likely to be significant. The targeted stretch of Country Club Road is one of the busiest in the city, with 23,000 cars passing through every day and no readily available detour routes, planners said, so some disruption is unavoidable.
"If you live in the corridor or drive through it, you will be affected," Crafts said. "But we'll try to make it as painless as possible."
The project began simply as a repaving effort, according to David Kudna, the project manager for the City. But Lake Oswego uses a "dig once" policy, he said, which calls for road projects to include unrelated work on the utilities underneath because it is cheaper in the long run to do the work while the road is already removed.
"We realized very quickly that we were going to have to update those utilities," Kudna said.
The project will rebuild a sanitary sewer line that currently passes through multiple private properties in order to cut over from Country Club Road to Tenth Street. The new version will be larger and will stay in the public right-of-way, connecting with the Tenth Street line where the two roads intersect.
"This is the time to replace it and bring everything up to standard," Crafts said.
The project will also make improvements to stormwater drainage along the corridor and update water lines through the area, including adding fire hydrants, which the corridor currently lacks. Pedestrian access ramps at the Tenth Street intersection will also be upgraded to be fully ADA-compliant.
One thing that won't change: the notorious "Six Corners" intersection at the north end of the project site, where Country Club Road intersects with Iron Mountain Boulevard, C Avenue and Bayberry Road in a confusing tangle of stop signs.
The intersection will be temporarily modified during construction, planners said, but will be restored to its current configuration after the project is finished.
Several audience members at last week's public meeting asked whether the City had considered updating the intersection by adding a roundabout or traffic signal, or by closing off some of the connecting roads such as C Avenue.
Rooney said the City has considered changing the intersection and could still do so in the future, but it's a very low priority. With limited funding available, she said, the Engineering Department focuses on making improvements to local intersections that see the greatest number of traffic accidents.
Paradoxically, the Six Corners intersection consistently has one of the lowest accident rates in the city, she said, making it a tough sell for safety improvements. The unclear lane markings and multiple lanes of traffic actually cause drivers to slow down and approach the area more cautiously.
"This is an infamous corner, there's no doubt about it," she said. "(But) it's so confusing, it's safe."
Although the overall configuration of Six Corners won't change, the project will re-stripe the intersection to try to make the traffic pattern clearer to drivers.
During construction, Six Corners and the intersection of Country Club Road and Tenth Street will both be temporarily altered to allow traffic on Country Club Road to pass straight through the corridor without stopping.
Tenth Street and C Avenue will also be closed off at those intersections in order to minimize turning traffic, and the speed limit through the area will be reduced. Street parking along Country Club Road will also be temporarily prohibited.
"A big part of this project was figuring out how to manage traffic during construction," Crafts said.
The changes are necessary to maintain the flow of traffic on Country Club Road, he said. The project will close two of the road's four lanes at a time, cutting the road's capacity in half and leaving only one lane for traffic in each direction.
The stop signs have to be removed to speed up the flow of traffic through the remaining lanes, he said, or else the area will become a choke point that could back up for miles and cause traffic to spill over into adjacent neighborhoods.
No major water or sewer service disruptions are expected during construction, Crafts said, although a brief water shutoff will need to happen on the day the water system is switched over to the new pipe. Neighbors will be given advance warning before that happens, he said.
For more information about the project, visit tinyurl.com/LORoadProject.