Oleson Road Realignment at Beaverton-Hillsdale
Q: I remember this project went through a big review in the 1990’s. Why did it start all over again?
A: In the mid 1990s Washington County conducted a study to analyze alternative solutions and identify a recommended project alternative. Over the course of a year, numerous jurisdictions, businesses, and citizens were involved in various meetings and presentations. The study examined a wide range of alternative solutions and culminated in 1996 with the Project's Technical Team recommending a Preferred Alternative.
Additionally, the County Board of Commissioners adopted Ordinance 683, an amendment to Washington County's Transportation Plan that says improvements to this intersection should be generally consistent with the recommended alternative in the 1996 study.
Over the past 13 years, development in the area (and related traffic growth) continued. Current traffic data were collected to validate the preferred alternative and the designs were updated to meet current design standards. Additionally, Washington County hired CH2M HILL as a design consultant on the project to collect current information on the status of driveways, buildings, Fanno Creek and other features in the project area.
Did work start on this project all over again? Not really. The project team needed to ensure that current information and standards were incorporated into the final design of the 1996 Preferred Alternative.
Q: There are a lot of problems at this intersection. Will the project fix all of these problems?
A: Washington County acknowledges a variety of problems in the project area. The 1996 recommended Preferred Alternative proposed various modifications to this intersection. However, in order to fund, design, and construct the preferred alternative, it was necessary to break the project into three phases. The first phase proposes to realign Oleson Road 400 feet to the east of where it currently intersects with Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. The County is currently advancing the first phase of the project, which provides the most benefit of the three phases. Breaking the project into phases will allow the County to seek funding in smaller, more manageable pieces. Advancing all phases as a single project could result in a designed project that never moves forward because it is too expensive to fund at one time.
Q: Will the project look exactly like the 1996 Preferred Alternative drawing?
A. The 1996 Preferred Alternative reviewed various details including traffic flow and congestion, land use, zoning, and other factors. However, it was not a complete engineering design. Since the mid 1990s road design standards have been updated, properties have developed and changed ownership or use, and environmental regulations have been revised. Since so much time had passed, it was important to get an accurate picture of the current status of the project area. Since 2009, the project team has been able to confirm that the overall 1996 Preferred Alternative is still viable. However, minor refinements were made to the design to ensure that it meets current design standards and environmental regulations.
Q: What other design alternatives were considered during the 1990s review process?
A: In early 1996, the project’s Technical Advisory Committee and Community Advisory Committee reviewed thirteen concepts. In May 1996, Washington County held an Open House to hear comments from the public. The concepts reviewed are listed below. Note that because some alternatives advanced for further analysis represented general categories and contained elements of non-selected alternatives, the total listed is greater than thirteen.
The five alternative concepts below were advanced for further review:
- Alternative #1: No action (no build)
- Alternative #2: Transportation System Management (TSM) – Relatively low cost, low impact improvements would be implemented to extend the operating life of the intersection, such as: improved traffic signals, improved lane location and striping, and improved traffic signs.
- Alternative #3: Split Intersection – This alternative would provide for greater separation between the Scholls Ferry Rd and Oleson Road intersections with Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Additional work would include the realignment of Scholls Ferry Road to reduce the skew of the current intersection.
- Alternative #4: At-Grade Off-Ramps – The use of ramps would allow left turns from Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway to be removed from the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway/Scholls Ferry Road intersection. Traffic signal timing would be simplified and focus on moving traffic through the intersection.
- Alternative #5: Grade Separation/Overpass – Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway would be elevated to cross above Scholls Ferry Road. Scholls Ferry Road would remain at its current grade.
The below concepts were also initially presented. Based on comments received and a qualitative analysis, these alternatives were not advanced for further study.
Two variations of an overpass concept
Four variations of a split intersection concept
- Double roundabout
- Tight couplet
- Wide couplet
Q. What has been spent to date to complete the 50% design that is now on hold?
A. Reaching 50% design cost the realignment project approximately $1.5 million (out of the $6 million originally dedicated to the design), utilizing a combination of the County's Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) and federal grant funds.
The design was limited to 50% because funding is not secured for right-of-way acquisition and construction for the realignment project. We are unsure when the realignment project will be able to move forward; therefore design will remain at 50% since the plans could be shelved for an undetermined amount of time. While the plans are shelved, there is the potential for site conditions, road construction standards, and environmental permitting requirements to change. This would require a redesign, which is more cost effective to do at 50% design versus 75% or 100% design.
The remaining $4.5 million set aside for the alignment's design was then used as match funds to replace the Oleson Road bridge over Fanno Creek. (In 2010, the County applied for and was awarded federal funds to design, acquire needed right-of-way and replace the substandard Oleson Road bridge.) This bridge replacement was part of Phase 1 of the Oleson Road Realignment Project.
The Oleson Road bridge replacement was designed based on the future Oleson Road Realignment Project. When/if the realignment project is able to move forward, the Fanno Creek bridge will remain in place and will tie into the realignment project.
Improvements on Oleson Road north of the bridge up to Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway are only temporary until the realignment project advances forward.
Q: What is NEPA? Why did the County have to go through this process?
A: NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, is a federal law that requires analysis and documentation of environmental impacts that result from certain federal actions, including transportation projects. Because this project has received federal funds, Washington County was required to complete the environmental review process. The environmental documentation process is now complete.
Q: The 1996 study involved a lot of public input and participation. Why did the public process start all over again? Wouldn’t it have been easier to go straight into the project design to get it done sooner?
A: For every project, there are always differing views on how design efforts should move forward. Washington County encourages public involvement to ensure that road projects develop while considering a wide-range of viewpoints and trade-offs. Involving the public in project planning and design is the right thing to do and it is required as part of compliance with federal environmental regulations. A project developed without public input has the potential for design setbacks, late input, missing information, and other concerns.
Q: Is Washington County the only public jurisdiction involved in this project?
A: This intersection involves roads belonging to Washington County (Scholls Ferry Road, Oleson Road and Dogwood Lane) and the state of Oregon (Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway). The city limits of both Beaverton and Portland are within a quarter mile of the project. Both cities have an interest in the project related to traffic impacts and possible future expansion toward the project area. Metro, as one agency providing project funds, also has an interest in the development of the project.
Q: How long will the design process take?
A: The preliminary design is nearing completion. The NEPA environmental documentation process is complete (the project received a Categorical Exclusion), and the design has been refined to meet current design standards, environmental regulations, and to incorporate community feedback. The project design and construction estimate will be further refined and developed to the 50% design milestone by early 2014. The design will then be halted until right-of-way and construction funding can be secured.
Q: Will my building or business be forced to move by this project?
A: Impacts to a few properties and businesses are likely to occur. If you have right-of-way (ROW) questions, please call the County's Capital Project Management ROW Section Supervisor, Tara Heesacker, at 503-846-7876.
Q: When will this project be built?
A: The timing for work beyond design has not been determined. There are several intermediate steps that will need to be accomplished prior to having the project ready for construction. These steps are described below. Note that some of these steps will occur at the same time.
- Complete final design and outline construction documents
- Identify funding for right-of-way acquisition (the cost of anticipated right-of-way acquisition will be developed during design)
- Acquire right-of-way
- Secure construction funding
- Update final designs if significant time has elapsed since final designs were developed
- Solicit bids from contractors to build the project and select a contractor
Some of the above steps may involve approval of agreements between affected public jurisdictions (such as the County and ODOT, Metro, or Clean Water Services).
Q: When will I know if my property will be impacted by the project?
A: See above question. Impacts to a few properties and businesses are likely to occur. If you have right-of-way (ROW) questions, please call the County's Capital Project Management ROW Section Supervisor, Tara Heesacker, at 503-846-7876.
Q: How will this project influence redevelopment in the area?
A: We are evaluating redevelopment opportunities within the immediate project area (500’ radius) as part of this project. Metro funded this study which considered existing parcel sizes, possible consolidation of parcels, vehicle access, multi-modal circulation and access to transit, natural resource constraints and opportunities, financing tools, and zoning or code changes necessary to support redevelopment. The results of this study will be available at a future date.