Tualatin CIO President’s Report: April 2022

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Basalt Creek Parkway extension
The $31 million Basalt Creek Parkway extension would bring that road east from Grahams Ferry Road and connect with Boones Ferry Road near Greenhill Lane. Courtesy of Washington County

On March 17th, CIO Leaders and the Tualatin City Council met for a special Work Session via Zoom. CIO Leaders asked for the meeting to share common concerns about Washington County public input process and the failure of existing City ordinances to protect the livability of our neighborhoods. Three areas of concerns were raised:

  • Apparent pattern of Washington County ignoring public input and failure to comply with land use planning goals on County managed development projects.
  • City approved development applicants apparently using out-of-date or COVID understated traffic models.
  • Increase of noise levels from SW 129th hardscape development and road noise and a destruction of mature trees increasing noise.

The CIO Leaders also recapped the CIOs history of tackling tough issues in the past and offer to work with the City to find solutions to these problems. CIO Leaders believe the City must take action to revise their codes or these problems will not be solved.

City Council members listened, added their own concerns, and agreed that we need to keep talking.

Washington County

The County needs to acknowledge that it would be a mistake to fund their current transportation project connecting SW Grahams Ferry to SW Boones Ferry. They don’t have Clackamas County’s agreement to complete the project to I-205. It’s still named the Basalt Creek Parkway but the current design isn’t a parkway. The original design in 2011-12 connected Basalt Creek to I-205 by crossing I-5 into the Stafford Area, then connecting to I-205 at the Stafford interchange. That future connection is not only unlikely, it looks impossible. 

The public has been trying to get the message across to Washington County but they don’t seem to hear it. Since the original design, in 2014 Clackamas County and Metro excluded Stafford Area from the UGB (Urban Growth Boundary). It was designed Urban Reserves. Land designated as Urban Reserves will remain rural, and cannot be urbanized, unless it is brought into the city’s UGB through a formal process for expansion. As of today, Clackamas County doesn’t list the Basalt Creek transportation project on their TSP (Transportation System Plan) nor are they likely to do so for many, many years, if ever. At least that is what the residents of Stafford Area tell us. We hear them. Because, as this so-called parkway is currently designed, it will hurt Tualatin traffic flow, not help it. We repeat. It will not help traffic flow.

Over many years, the public input process for the Basalt Creek Parkway by the County has been feeble and the County presentations misleading. Among its many faults, the latest Open House (and last Open House) failed to include a traffic analysis. Why? The CIO Leadership knows that this expensive, environmentally harmful, and noisy bridge will bring more congestion on to SW Boones Ferry.

Today, traffic experiences lengthy backups during peak travel hours while traveling southbound on SW Boones Ferry to I-5 interchange at Wilsonville. Since Basalt Parkway currently ends at SW Grahams Ferry, that traffic (principally truck) turns right and goes to I-5 exchange at Wilsonville. Doing so means they travel on a Wilsonville city road (Day Road). Both Day Road and SW Boones Ferry backup at the interchange. Extending the so-called parkway to SW Boones Ferry doesn’t help. All it does is further backup SW Boones Ferry. Making SW Boones Ferry wider doesn’t help. The problem is the I-5 exchange. If the original plan was still feasible, then the traffic would have crossed over I-5 and eventually connected to I-205. Someone has to convince Washington County. 

The CIO Leaders asked the City Council to support our efforts to communicate that fact.

Traffic

 The City has recently approved numerous developments apparently allowing applicants to use traffic models which understate current traffic, particularly traffic on SW 65th and SW Boones Ferry. When the TSP (Transportation System Plan) was approved in 2013, it did not anticipate the massive volume of traffic fleeing from I-5 during peak congestion from the exchanges at SW Lower Boones Ferry down to the second exit in Wilsonville. Since 2020, current traffic counts have been affected by COVID’s impact with people working from home. 

The CIO Leaders asked the City Council to direct staff to review their processes.

Noise & Trees

When SW 124th went through, traffic and other noises started bouncing off new hardscape. Trees are a natural sound barrier by absorbing, deflecting, or refracting sound waves. Two of those projects (Autumn Sunrise and Tualatin Logistic Park) will remove more than 3,500 trees. 

The CIO Leaders asked the City Council to ask staff to review our ordinances and see if we can increase natural sound barriers.

For more information about these issues, go to our website www.tualatincio.org. If you would like to join our efforts, email me at Tualatincommercialcio@gmail.com.

Tualatin CIO