Tualatin, Wilsonville and county leaders support bridge over wetlands

Out of three proposals that would connect Tualatin, Wilsonville and Interstate 5 in the Basalt Creek area, the east-west alignment approach got the unanimous backing of the multi-jurisdictional committee at a special session held Tuesday at Wilsonville City Hall.

Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden’s support for the proposal, he said, had many facets: The east-west alignment had the narrowest crossing of the Basalt Wetlands, for one.

“It’s an elevated crossing, so you’re not having to put in piers (to support the road),” he said. “It’s easy to build a bridge across.”

Additionally, the proposal offered the best alignment for the projected volume of cars and trucks and transportation needs. “It’s a balance of all of the pros and cons, and seemed to have the best total outcome in general,” Ogden said.

The committee consisted of two representatives from each jurisdiction, with Ogden and Councilor Monique Beikman representing Tualatin, Mayor Tim Knapp and City Council President Celia Núñez from Wilsonville, and Chairman Andy Duyck and Commissioner Roy Rogers from Washington County.

This was despite the opposition of Tualatin city councilors Joelle Davis and Wade Brooksby and the objections of the three residents who would be relocated with compensation to make way for the roadway.

Knapp acknowledged that the proposal was a compromise. “I think people generally feel that the prospect for growth in the new industrial area will be beneficial in terms of jobs, employment, economic activity and tax base,” he said. Ultimately, “it was the most effective at carrying the capacity that’s needed at the most reasonable cost.”

Both mayors agreed the alignment was an “incremental” project, and that the east-west alignment might not be finalized for more than a decade.

Councilor Davis attended the session but was not involved in the voting process. “I would prefer to have a plan that would not impact homeowners or wetlands,” she said.

Davis would have been more likely to support an option further south with fewer wetlands and a flatter road. The current plan, Davis argued, runs over a wetland channel and will necessitate a 6 percent grade in the road, which she characterizes as “unfriendly to traffic.”

As the committee’s official recommendation, the plan will go before the county for approval.

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