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Volume 15, Issue 4
April 2017


“Offramp from hell” gets a blessing  
by Virginia Bruce

The eastbound offramp leading from Highway 26 to Cedar Hills Boulevard has long been a source of frustration and danger to motorists and pedestrians. A solution is finally in sight, as three jurisdictions and a corporation near agreement on a public-private partnership to build a better intersection.

Beaverton, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Peterkort Co. will each invest $200,000 to build improvements. Washington County will put in $600,000 to fund the sidewalk improvements and the sidewalk on the east side of CHB under the overpass. and manage the project. The agreement is nearly complete, after lengthy negotiations on the details. All parties and their representatives are expected to sign it over the next few weeks. Our Commissioner, Greg Malinowski, tell us, “The County voted on April 4 to go forward with the plan to add a signal for the offramp of eastbound 26 at Cedar Hills Blvd.”

Don Odermott, who represents Peterkort on traffic issues, said, “J. Peterkort and Company continues to be supportive of the agreement among the three agencies and Peterkort to install a traffic signal at the Hwy 26 / Cedar Hills Blvd. offramp. That agreement appears to be very close to being signed by all parties.”

Why has it taken so long?

In October 2004, Peterkort Company revealed their Master Plan for their land around the intersection of Barnes Road and Cedar Hills Boulevard. The area was zoned for a combination of high-density residential and commercial uses in the Cedar Hills-Cedar Mill Community Plan, first published in 1983. The company was reluctant to begin a mixed-use development.

In 2004, Lois Peterkort Ditmars said, “The county’s standards and principles were imposed almost eight years ago as a result of the Metro 2040 program. We have learned a lot in the last eight years, and that is [that] the current program is not financially feasible. We told the county, when they were implementing Metro’s program during the station area planning, that if the planning imposed on us was financially infeasible we would not develop in those areas. That is why nothing has been done in the station area and probably won’t until it makes sense to the financial world.”

Offramp map

In February 2005, one day after Beaverton annexed their land, the Peterkort Company announced that Wal-Mart would build a “superstore” on their property at the southwest corner of Cedar Hills Boulevard and Barnes Road. Fierce neighborhood opposition and massive traffic challenges finally ended that proposal. If it had gone forward, this offramp would probably have been part of an extensive remodel of the entire traffic pattern. (Including at least six travel lanes on both Barnes and Cedar Hills Bl. at the intersection!

More Peterkort Co. Master Plans came out in the intervening years, but nothing was developed. Then the recession of 2008 and beyond halted most kinds of development in the area. And the offramp continued to rack up accidents and frustration, because the jurisdictions wanted future Peterkort development to pay for improvements. Here’s a link to a video of drivers trying to turn left there.

In 2013, Washington County applied to ODOT for the inclusion of this offramp project in the Enhance program, which receives 24% of the statewide funding in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). In February 2013, the Region 1 (Portland Metro area) STIP Project Selection Committee voted to include 43 of the applications on the 150% project list, which represents 150% of the available Enhance funding, and this project made that list.

In September 2013, the Region 1 STIP Project Selection Committee voted to include 25 proposed projects in the Recommended 100% Enhance Project List, which allocated $66M of available Enhance funding, and it was approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) in October 2013. This project didn’t make the cut.

Public-private partnership

Finally the jurisdictions gave up and began to search for another option. We first heard of a proposed agreement in May 2016. Rick Garrison is the Maintenance & Operations Project Manager for ODOT Region 1 (Portland Metro area). He says, “The city (Beaverton) and the county are satisfied with the agreement. We’re hoping to hear from Peterkort by the end of the week. They were finishing up some negotiations with Beaverton about tax credits. They were also concerned about how the completed work might affect traffic.”

The project will make the following safety improvements:

  • A traffic signal at the end of the eastbound off-ramp that will be synchronized with the existing signal at Butner.
  • ADA and sidewalk improvements associated with the new signal.
  • A curb-tight sidewalk along the east side of Cedar Hills under the overpass and across the westbound on-ramp.

Andrew Singelakis, Director, Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation, says “WHPacific Consultants has been selected to complete the design. We have been working on a scope of work and contract with them in parallel to the agreement. We hope to have them under contract in the next month or so, and we are moving forward with the design work regardless of the status of the agreement. A project manager from Engineering and Construction Services has not been selected yet. Currently the County Engineer is managing the project.” The County’s share of the funding will come from Transportation Development Taxes.

If approved by all parties, construction would begin in 2018. Singelakis says, “Every effort will be made to get the plans ready and approved through ODOT as soon as possible. As project development proceeds, we will be able to better establish bid and construction dates.”

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Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2017