|Volume 14, Issue 4||
Washington County moves toward Saltzman Road improvements
After 12 years of organizing, research, and advocacy by community members, Citizen Participation Organizations (CPOs), and the group Saltzman Solutions, (now the Bethany Neighborhood Coalition—BNC), an agreement has been reached that should improve the dangerous section of Saltzman Road between Bayonne Lane and Laidlaw Road.
On March 15, Andy Duyck, the Chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners (BCC), signed a letter of intent that demonstrates the Board’s intent to spend approximately $6.5 million improving this section of Saltzman Road. The letter can be found as part of the Board Agenda for March 15, 2016.
If the Washington County Coordinating Committee (WCCC) agrees, the county will provide $1.2 million from the Bonny Slope West Transportation System Development Charges (paid by developers), and the remaining $5.3 million may come from the county’s MSTIP 3e program (the next round of major county road projects, due to be finalized later this year). The county intends to recommend to WCCC that $5.3 million be allocated for improvements to the Saltzman alignment, that an alternative alignment be studied, and that the project should be included on the MSTIP 3e list of projects.
The effort to improve this section of Saltzman Road goes all the way back to October 2004, when CPO 7 members along with Saltzman Road neighbors asked the county to create a study area for the eventual realignment of Saltzman Road. The BCC approved Ordinance 626 to create the Saltzman Road Extension Study Area, and added it to the Washington County 2020 Transportation Plan. This ordinance discussed a realignment of Saltzman Road, as well as future connectivity of Saltzman Road to the north and west (potentially all the way to North Bethany and even beyond). It’s unclear if a study was ever carried out, and last fall the county proposed a temporary fix to the current alignment.
In early 2014, with development proceeding rapidly and with no evident progress on Saltzman, the “Saltzman Solutions” group was formed to coordinate community involvement for promoting long-term improvements to Saltzman. The group met regularly and was partially responsible, along with other concerned citizens, for making sure a sidewalk was constructed from the new Findley Heights development to Findley Elementary School.
The sidewalk was recently completed. Unfortunately, Clean Water Services made it difficult or impossible for the sidewalk to cross a small wetland just to the north of Findley Grade School. The majority of the length of sidewalk is 15 to 20 feet from the roadway (much safer) while the last 30 to 40 feet is adjacent to the roadway (not safe). The sidewalk that is separated from the roadway was planned by the landowner and contractor to be in the correct location for a future widening of Saltzman. This long-range planning effort should be commended.
The group also testified at numerous county meetings and hearings about the need to realign Saltzman Road. In September of 2015, after the construction of Findley Heights commenced, more neighbors wanted to be involved in improving Saltzman Road, so a non-profit organization called the Bethany Neighborhood Coalition was formed, in part to fund the legal expenses required to file Land Use appeals. A LUBA (Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals) appeal is one way the community can legally challenge the county’s continued approval of developments without addressing much needed infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, parks, and schools.
The BNC group filed two LUBA appeals in late 2015, both related to the first development application in Area 93 (Bonny Slope West). The BNC group hired the Garvey Schubert Barer law firm and Clemow Associates engineering firm to facilitate the filings.
John Wickham, BNC director, says, “These appeals got the attention of the BCC and West Hills Development (Arbor Homes). It got us a place at the negotiating table and gave the community much-needed leverage and hope for the long term fix needed for Saltzman.”
In December 2015, a rift occurred among the members of the Bethany Neighborhood Coalition. The conflict was over legal expenses and the county’s initial offer for fixing the road. Some members, who left the group in December of 2015, felt the county’s offer of $3.8 million to improve Saltzman Road on its current alignment was the best the group would get. Those who remained in the group did not want to settle for that offer. The current letter of intent from the county, with the funding at $6.5 million, was negotiated by the current board members of the BNC.
The BNC is now working with West Hills Development and the County Land Use and Transportation Department to evaluate bridge options (see February 2016 Cedar Mill News) that would best utilize the $6.5 million that is expected to be available after the county approves the MSTIP 3e funds later in the year.
Wickham says, “This was an important step towards eventually improving a seriously substandard section of road. Hopefully, with more work from the BNC and other community members, the road will be straightened and connected to NW 130th Avenue, which will help decrease traffic congestion well into the future. We are actively investigating whether, once Saltzman is realigned, it will be easier for THPRD to develop the NE Neighborhood Park, which is located at the southeast corner of Laidlaw and Saltzman Roads.“ BNC is committed to working with partner organizations such as CPO 7 and THPRD to facilitate future projects that benefit the community.
More information about the Bethany Neighborhood Coalition can be found at bncoregon.org
Cedar Mill News
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