Tualatin continues Moving Forward in ‘Best Year Yet’

748
Tualatin residents walk along a newly completed roadway.
Tualatin residents walk along a newly completed roadway, part of the $3 million Garden Corner Curves project in the Ibach neighborhood that includes new pedestrian crossings, stormwater faciliites (shown here) and a new culvert and fish passage for Hedges Creek.

City officials have dubbed 2021 “the best year yet” in the life of the transportation and pedestrian safety centered Tualatin Moving Forward project.

Tualatin Senior Transportation Engineer Mike McCarthy detailed the year’s successes in an end-of-year brief to City Council last month, including the November opening celebration of the $20 million bond project’s current crown jewel, Garden Corner Curves. 

Building on the momentum of a robust 2020, six projects that improved life for bikers and pedestrians and peppered the city with new public art were completed in 2021 bringing the total to 20 with another 14 in progress as the calendar flipped.

“We had another really good year, and I’ll keep knocking on wood because it’s been really wonderful. We are excited with how things are working,” McCarthy said. “We’re getting to an exciting time in the program where we’re really seeing things on the ground and really seeing things happening.”

The program’s budget is also thriving.

Tualatin Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Don Hudson, gave a rosy financial report that has the project’s funding up $4 million over the initial $20 million bond from 2018.

“I get the honor of throwing more money at you and explaining why,” Hudson told Mayor Frank Bubenick and City Councilors. Back in 2018, when the bonds were sold, “it was a good time to go into the market and we were an attractive risk.”

The bond sale netted closer to $23 million initially because investors opted to pay higher premiums in exchange for a higher rate of return down the road, the city then banked another $1.2 million by investing moneys that weren’t immediately tied up in projects instead of letting those dollars stagnate.

Investments are currently bringing in about $14,000 a month, a that figure will decrease overtime as more projects are started and as the market shifts, Hudson explained.

To date, Moving Forward has spent $9.8 million replacing buckled sidewalks, installing crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic signals and upgrading crossing with ADA compliant ramps, among other safety improvements, with another $14.2 million projected for upcoming projects. 

In addition to Garden Corner Curves, Tualatin installed flashing lights in four separate locations: SW Boones Ferry Rd at The Commons, SW Hazelbrook Rd and Jurgens Park, SW Nyberg St and SW 57th Ave, and SW Boones Ferry Rd near SW Arapaho St. 

Many of those areas have been enhanced by a public art series in which new sidewalks are imprinted with one of about a dozed stamps designed by area artists.

 One of the year’s largest undertakings, the first phase work aimed at making a series of improvements in the area around SW Avery St and SW 95 Ave, near Tualatin Elementary School, is nearly complete.

At another site, the in-progress effort to replace stop signs with a traffic Signal at the intersection of SW Martinazzi Ave and SW Sagert St. was waylaid by global supply chain snags. Poles for the light are installed but “unfortunately were looking at February or March before we’ll actually be able to get the signal in and turned on,” McCarthy said. 

On the bright side, he added “We’ve had some wonderful artwork that’s been getting installed. The south side of Sagert St. works out to be a great little walk now. It includes more than 10 of the different stamps we’ve been using.”

With upcoming projects, McCarthy anticipates Moving Forward will have spent about half of its funding, $12 million, by the end of this year.

Planning is still in the works for the most ambitious undertaking on the horizon.

 “We’re working on a conceptual design for a project along Boones Ferry to fill in bike lane and sidewalk gaps from just south of Tualatin-Sherwood Rd all the way down to the city limits,” McCarthy said. 

City Manager Sherilyn Lombos reiterated the importance of community participation going forward, calling it the projects guiding star.

“I want to take a step back to 2018,” Lombos said. “There were three things that were really important, kind of our True North. 1. This was single-focused, it was all about transportation. 2. We wanted to make sure that the entire elected body was supportive … and then the third thing was that it was community driven…This wasn’t something that staff sat around thinking up. These were projects that were generated from the community.”

To read the full Tualatin Moving Forward 2021 report or suggest an area for future projects visit Tualatinmovingforward.com.