State officials took steps this week to help give some Portland-area commuters in Oregon a quicker, safer trip by fast-tracking a project to cut congestion on I-205.
The $30 million project will repave and widen portions of I-205 between Johnson Creek Boulevard near Happy Valley and the Glenn Jackson Bridge. Work is slated to get underway by early next year. Workers will add "auxiliary lanes" just north or south of I-84 on opposite sides of the freeway.
A new northbound auxiliary lane will connect the I-84 interchange to the Sandy Boulevard and Killingsworth Street exits. The southbound auxiliary lane will connect the I-84 interchange to the Division Street and Powell Boulevard exit. Those interchanges have some of the highest crash rates in Oregon because of the short merge distances, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Agency officials predict the auxiliary lanes will cut down on crashes by as much as 30%.
Groundbreaking will take place in early 2018 with the project expected to finish in late 2019.
Members of the Oregon Transportation Commission—the governor-appointed body that oversees ODOT—took a procedural vote Thursday to put the project in the state's transportation plan. This ensures the engineering and construction phases will move ahead.
Finishing the I-205 project on time is key to unlocking new gas tax revenues under the massive, $5.3 billion transportation funding plan approved by lawmakers this year. The bill increases gas taxes by 4 cents in January, to 34 cents per gallon. But to get an additional 2-cent gas tax bump, the I-205 project must be completed by Dec. 1, 2019, among a slew of other requirements.
Gov. Kate Brown has yet to sign the transportation funding bill, but she is expected to do so in the coming days. The bill funds road upgrades and public transit projects around the state through raising taxes and fees, and creating a set of new taxes, including on the sale of new cars and bicycles and on payroll.
Story & image source: The Oregonian