Road News November 2021

thompson map

Kenny Terrace/Thompson Road realignment

The project to connect the existing Kenny Terrace to Thompson Road between Saltzman and the westbound stretch near Hartung Farms entrance is still under review by Washington County. Another online Open House will be held after the first of the year, according to Land Use and Transportation (LUT). 

A discussion will be held during the November 9 CPO 1 meeting, see CPO News for details. 

Kenny Terrace was built nearly 20 years ago in anticipation of the realignment of Thompson Road when additional properties in the area developed. Homes along Kenny Terrace do not face the road. Trees and landscaping were planted, and the Willow Creek Homeowners Association has maintained the landscaping located within the county right -of-way. Understandably nearly everyone in the Willow Creek subdivision is against the road project. They fear increased traffic and higher speeds that will effectively split the neighborhood in two.

Proposed ten-foot sidewalks would require replacing trees

However, the thornier issue is the 10-foot sidewalk presented by Washington County during a February 2021 Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Work Session. With three options provided by staff, the majority of the County Board (County Chair Kathryn Harrington and Commissioners Pam Treece and Nafisa Fai) supported the wide “multi-use trail” on both sides of the new Thompson Road alignment. They felt it would improve safety for all pedestrians and cyclists using it to reach an elementary school, a future THPRD park, a commercial area, and one of the few Trimet bus stops in the area. This wide sidewalk would preserve the street trees but would require removal of the landscape trees located between the sidewalk and the homes backing to Kenny Terrace. 

In a follow-up BCC Work Session on September 7, 2021, where details of the health of the trees and more detailed drawings were provided, all five Commissioners supported the construction of the 10-foot multi-use trail. Plans call for replacement of the 20-year-old trees that were deemed unhealthy by county-hired arborists, and those impacted by the multi-use trail. New trees would be planted to create a continuous screen between the street and adjacent homes.

Some key points that the Willow Creek neighbors want to make:

No Project Advisory Committee (PAC) was formed to gather community feedback. According to Oregon Land Use Goal 1, public engagement is required for this type of project, but none was created during this portion of the Thompson Road realignment design. An earlier PAC was formed in 2002 and considered this realignment as part of the realignment of the Thompson/Saltzman intersection. 

CPO 7 (its boundary is Thompson north of the Willow Creek subdivision) requested a PAC be formed. The request was denied and instead LUT met with the Willow Creek HOA to resolve issues with the realignment but apparently did not discuss the possibility of the wider sidewalk at that time.

Stephen Roberts, head of LUT and who reports to Harrington, engaged CPO 7 but never engaged with CPO 1 which includes that neighborhood. 

LUT held a virtual Open House for this project in May 2020. The options for changes to the existing sidewalk on Kenny Terrace were not included in this Open House.

A petition started by a Findley Elementary student has gathered over 200 signatures against the sidewalk proposal and removal of the mature trees. 

The project cost is estimated at $6 million. Adding two 10-foot sidewalks necessitates replacement of as many as 150 trees and will cost an additional estimated $500,000 

The sidewalk dead ends at the south end, so why spend money on a wider walkway that goes to nowhere? 

The previous design already included buffered bikeways which meets the intent of Resolution and Order (R&O 17-2). This road is not included in the county Bicycle & Pedestrian Improvement Project list.

According to Fran Warren, head of ‘TreeKeepers of Washington County,” existing shade trees are 70 times more effective than saplings to provide shade and cool the temperature of the neighborhood as much as 5-9 degrees. Noise and pollution to homes will increase. 

County hired and received two Arborist reports both of which stated that current trees are susceptible to disease but are not currently unhealthy. Mr. Roberts misrepresented this report to the board stating that most of the existing trees are not viable. 

Some things to keep in mind, however, include:

Sidewalks are built incrementally. When this section of Thompson is finally improved, sidewalks will be installed in front of Hartung Farms. Washington County is moving toward building more wide sidewalks. A 10-foot sidewalk is under consideration for a segment of Springville Road. 

Homes were purchased knowing they backed to this roadway. For every home located on Kenny Terrace, there are an equal number backing to Thompson Road that bought thinking the road was going to be realigned.

While Harrington is well-known to be a cycling enthusiast, we can’t assume that she is the only one who wants better bike-ped facilities. Reducing our dependence on cars is critical to ensuring a livable climate for future generations. We can’t calculate the effect of clearing and replacing trees with the potential to reduce auto trips.

To review the February board meeting, go to the County’s YouTube channel found here (starts at the 27 minute mark).

Presentation information and proposals can be found here.

The video of the September 7 Work Session is found here.

Please reach out to our Commissioner Pam Treece and County Chair Kathryn Harrington with your feedback, and plan to attend the November 9 virtual CPO 1 meeting

alignments map

Saltzman update

The long process to decide the future of the northern end of Saltzman Road continues. Read this article for background and links to previous stories. A presentation to the Board of County Commissioners is currently planned to occur during the January 18 Work Session. CPO 1 is voting at its November 9 meeting to send a letter to the BCC in support of the “western alignment.”

CPO 7 held a meeting in September to discuss this, but their meetings are not recorded. Here’s their agenda with links to the letter they wrote and submitted to the BCC.

Here’s the county page on the project.