By Ray Pitz, Thursday, 12 November 2015
Local and county officials braved a rain and chilly temperatures Thursday afternoon to break ground on a future extension of Southwest 124th Avenue, an expected shortcut for some Tualatin-Sherwood Road motorists to Interstate 5 and a home for a 30-mile-long pipeline to provide Hillsboro with its future drinking water, taken from the Willamette River at Wilsonville.
Plans for the $30 million road extension are to build a north-to-south route from Tualatin-Sherwood Road to Tonquin Road. Once that extension intersects with Tonquin Road (2,000 feet east of Morgan Road), it will cross that roadway, creating a new road that will run parallel to Tonquin before connecting with Grahams Ferry Road.
Work on the road — which will be a five-lane arterial once all development along that roadway is completed — and pipeline are expected to begin April 2016 with a completion date set for 2018.
Andy Duyck, chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners told those gathered for the groundbreaking that the 124th Avenue extension would reduce freight congestion while still opening 1,700 acres to industrial development in one of the most significant projects involving the I-5 corridor in recent history. Duyck said building the roadway while placing the water pipeline in the ground at the same time will save ratepayers and taxpayers “tons of money.”
Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden said an I-5 connector has been discussed for the last 40 years. While this isn’t the connector or bypass discussed, Ogden said it’s the only current project that will benefit freight traffic. Ogden praised both Washington County Commissioner Roy Rogers and Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp for helping to move the project forward.
He then took a jab at the Willamette River pipeline project, joking, “We don’t drink Willamette Water in Tualatin … because we want to live a long life.”
Countering Odgen good-naturedly, Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp said Hillsboro will soon have a reliable, high quality source of water once the pipeline is completed. Both Wilsonville and Sherwood use Willamette River water, as does a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Wilsonville, which bottles Dasani brand water. “You’re already drinking Willamette River water,” Knapp told Ogden.
Sherwood Mayor Krisanna Clark said the 124th Avenue extension would provide a relief for traffic congestion and allow businesses to more easily get their products to market.
Clark said two parcels are on the cusp of being brought in for future development in Sherwood’s Tonquin Employment Area. In 2012, Sherwood voters approved annexing 300 acres of that area into city limits. Now individual property owners must request to be annexed and two landowners have expressed an interest.
The Tonquin Employment Area property is earmarked for small to mid-size manufacturers who ideally will create more than 3,000 jobs, according to Sherwood city officials.
Meanwhile, Clark said she often talks to Sherwood residents who think that Roy Rogers Road has always been around. That hasn’t been the case, she pointed out, saying she hopes that years from now, people can’t remember a time when the 124th Avenue extension wasn’t there and say “this is a job well done.”
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Duyck praised the new Willamette River pipeline, saying it was being built with earthquake prevention in mind, something that will help avoid disruption during a future earthquake predicted for the region.
Tualatin Valley Water District Board President Marilyn McWilliams said the modified intake system and pipeline will provide for the next water source for the region by building a resilient water supply.