Washington Co. ‘westside bypass’ still an idea

Washington County Transportation Futures Study underway until fall 2016

File photo, traffic freeway. May 5, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
File photo, traffic freeway. May 5, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

WASH. Co., Ore. (KOIN 6) — Washington County is just getting underway with its Transportation Futures Study, but an idea for a new freeway is already buzzing.

Committee members are working to brainstorm ideas about how to move traffic through Washington County in the next 25-50 years.

“Our population growth was, just over the last year, a little over 10,000,” Washington County spokesman Stephen Roberts said. “That comes out to something like 25 people a day moving into the county. We have a similar level of job growth out here.”

As Washington County grows, the advisory committee will take into account changing demographics, land use and economic conditions, environmental health and quality issues, and transportation needs and technologies.

It’s a present day issue, but the idea of adding transportation corridors to the area has been buzzing for years. The county’s 1988 transportation plan outlined a potential area for a new north-south corridor called the Westside Bypass. The freeway would route traffic off I-5 somewhere around Wilsonville and take it through Washington County to Hillsboro.

“Inevitably, that’s where people’s minds go when you talk about transportation needs on the west side,” Roberts said. “So that’s a long-standing issue out there.”

Those in favor of constructing a new bypass point to the access it will provide. Opponents have argued it’s not worth the billions it would cost, and some rural farmers said they don’t want to deal with the urban sprawl the bypass would bring.

“At this point this is an 18-month study,” Roberts said. “We’re just getting it kicked off and so it’s really too early to be thinking about specific projects, but clearly that’s something that will be discussed as we go through the study.”

The advisory committee will continue it’s Transportation Futures Study through the fall of 2016.

Washington County Transportation Study Process. May 5, 2015 (Courtesy, wctransportationfutures.org)
Washington County Transportation Study Process. May 5, 2015 (Courtesy, wctransportationfutures.org)

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