In preparation for a nine-mile paving project on Interstate 205 this summer between the Abernethy Bridge and Interstate 5, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) representative Richard Watanabe appeared before the West Linn City Council Monday, Feb. 13, to provide an overview of the construction and address any lingering questions.
The $10.5 million project will primarily address deteriorating pavement on I-205; in addition to that, ODOT also plans to resurface pavement on 10th Street beneath I-205, repave the U.S. Highway 43 interchange loop ramp and install Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk ramp improvements at on- and off-ramps for 10th Street and Highway 43. Crews will also install rumble strips throughout the project area.
"In 2006, we did some widening along I-205 and we did a repaving project," Watanabe said. "Since then, the paving is deteriorating and it's time to be repaved. We're fortunate enough to have funding available."
Watanabe said the bulk of the work would be done at night and that the paving tends to go "pretty fast." Still, he estimated the project would last most of the summer "because of all the phases we have to do."
"The actual paving should be about a month," Watanabe said.
After a brief presentation, Watanabe addressed a number of concerns from the council. City Councilor Bob Martin, for his part, asked if there would be any safety improvements at the Highway 43 on-ramp.
"When you actually merge off of that loop, it's very difficult to see," Martin said. "You're at the mercy of whoever is on 205 at that time and whether they're paying attention."
Watanabe said this project is focused almost entirely on repaving, but that safety concerns would be addressed when ODOT begins planning in earnest for its long-discussed I-205 widening project.
"Currently we don't have funding for the widening project, and so it's uncertain when that will come," Watanabe said. "The need for paving is in the near future, so we're moving ahead with that project. It would not preclude (widening and safety improvements) in the future."
City Council President Brenda Perry expressed concerns about noise for residents who live along the freeway and asked about the hours of construction.
"It will probably be from 9 or 10 at night to before rush hour," Watanabe said. "We'll do public outreach before the project starts once we get a contractor on board and we have a better understanding of the schedule. We'll have flyers and notices for residents."
Watanabe said the new pavement should last between 10 and 15 years before it needs to be addressed again.
In the end, while the council approved of the general outlook for the project, concerns remained about the timeline and traffic problems.
"It sounds like it's going to be a rough summer," Mayor Russ Axelrod said. "We know you have to do the work, but the best you can coordinate would be good for the community."
Axelrod added that the project would likely prompt more drivers to cut through the Willamette area as a de facto "third lane" of I-205.
"We're going to see more people leaving the freeway," he said.
Watanabe said ODOT would coordinate with West Linn Police to address any safety issues that pop up along the way.