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Volume 12, Issue 4
April 2014

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Another close call on Saltzman
by Virginia Bruce

Neighbor and eyewitness Eliot Sluyter reported, “During the morning of April 1, a semi truck hauling large equipment on a trailer came around the corner at the top of the Saltzman hill, heading north (down the hill). A car was heading south (up the hill) either cutting the corner or simply staying in its lane. Either way, there was not enough room for the truck, and he had to cut into the ditch. He hit a service pole and caused lines to fall to the ground at my house (midway down the hill) affecting my phone/internet/tv. The same low-voltage lines heading south above the hill fell, crossing the road at the residence at 4605 NW Saltzman. Police and fire were dispatched and the road was closed, with one line crossing Saltzman, one pole leaning into the road, and one long line hanging into the road at eye-level.”

April 1 accident scene. Photo from Wa. Cty. Sheriff

Sluyter continued, “Earlier that week, either the evening of March 30th or early morning on the 31st, a car went off the road at the top of the hill. They were heading north on Saltzman, and instead of making the 90-degree turn, they headed about 20-degrees (nearly straight), off the road, through the fence, and down the hill. They also hit a tree. I don't believe anyone was seriously injured.”

These accidents happen almost every week, according to neighbors. Very few of them are reported, either to the Sheriff or to ODOT (perhaps people don’t want their insurance rates to go up?) It seems like only a matter of time before someone is killed. Heavy construction traffic has increased, and once Area 93 begins to be built out, it will get worse.

Washington County has long known about the problems. Ordinance 626, passed in 2004, noted safety hazards including the curves, the substandard bridge, and the narrow width, and called for a “study area.” Subsequent developments, including Bauer Highlands, were required to dedicate right-of-way (ROW) that allowed room to widen and smooth the curves at the top of the hill.

2007 proposed development clearly shows the previously-preserved wider curve

In 2007, however, a five-lot development was proposed (see map) for a one-acre parcel between Bauer Highlands and Saltzman that extended past the curve. The development approval noted: “NW Saltzman Road will be realigned and, as currently constructed along the site’s frontage, will be removed. No direct access to NW Saltzman Road from the project site is proposed. As a part of the NW Saltzman Road realignment, which will redirect this roadway north-northwest from the existing 90-degree horizontal curve, a “T” intersection will be constructed immediately north of the project site’s frontage. The new “realigned” section of NW Saltzman Road will continue to be located along the project site’s westerly frontage.”

That development was never built. The existing Transportation System Plan (TSP) shows that westerly alignment. The revised plans for Arbor Homes’ 81-lot parcel on the west side of Saltzman at the top of the hill dedicates a curved section at the northeast corner for Saltzman’s future alignment. The planner working on what’s now called Findley Heights, Al Boesel, says, “[the alignment of Saltzman] is a long-range planning question. We can only deal with what’s on the books. We’re told we can’t get anything from Arbor for the Saltzman issue, other than the dedication.”

The Draft 2035 Transportation Plan shows both the interim and ultimate alignments for Saltzman. Click to download a PDF of this map.

The county is in the process of updating the TSP. Land Use and Transportation spokesman Stephen Roberts says, “The 2035 TSP update includes an interim recommendation and an ultimate recommendation for Saltzman Road between NW Thompson Road and Laidlaw Road—the northern portion north of Bayonne Lane.

“The interim recommendation involves making improvements to the existing Saltzman Road alignment to address safety concerns. The existing road is currently two lanes, and is shown as a 2/3 lane Collector in the draft TSP Update maps. Having the interim alignment in the TSP should help set the stage for funding of relatively near-term safety improvements, though there's no funding currently identified.

“The ultimate solution shows a new alignment to the west, connecting to 130th Avenue at Laidlaw. This is also shown as a 2/3 lane Collector on the draft TSP maps. Having this ultimate alignment in the TSP will be important to preserving right of way so that project can be funded and constructed at some point in the more distant future. That's the approx. $11.1 million option we presented at the CPO 1 and 7 meeting over the winter.

“The TSP update does not include any specific improvement projects for Saltzman Road, and no funding has currently been allocated for either the interim or ultimate improvements. However, having a clear strategy for interim and long-term improvements gives a higher level of certainty than exists today.

Roberts continues, “As we've noted before, the interim and ultimate projects will compete with many other road improvement needs around the county for future funding.”

The next meeting of the Community Advisory Committee will be held on Tuesday, April 15, 6:30-9 pm in the Washington Street Conference Center, 225 S. First Avenue, Hillsboro, Room 103 and the public is welcome to attend, although time for comments may be limited.

The 2035 TSP update draft currently designates the interim improvements as a near-term project. However, that only means it may be looked at within ten years. The county usually tries to fund road improvements in part from development, but there’s little open space adjacent to Saltzman that could justify that.

According to Mary Manseau, former chair of CPO 7 and current member of the Washington County Planning Commission, preserving ROW for the westerly connection is important because it provides, “future alignment to allow construction in the long term, allowing for a direct connection of Saltzman south of Laidlaw to 130th Avenue north of Laidlaw, [and possibly, eventually to Springville Road]. This connection may not be needed for many years, but by preserving a corridor, it will preserve the needed right-of-way and will not prevent the possibility of the western route.”

An interesting side note is that the Saltzman Solutions group, which has been meeting to study the situation and pressure for improvements, applied to “Adopt-a-Road” to keep litter off the northern end of the road. The application for that segment was denied because it was deemed too dangerous for pedestrians!

Saltzman is a long way from county headquarters in Hillsboro, but we hope we can attract enough attention to this problem to get it fixed before lives are lost.


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