Transportation congestion relief: It's a quality of life issue
Brookwood Parkway - The $13.1 million Brookwood Parkway project was largely completed in January. In these photos, taken in early May, final striping was not complete. The work was delayed several times due to rain; several consecutive dry days are required for the process.
Two years ago, Brookwood Parkway, between Meek and Shute roads, was a congested commuter and truck route. While still a heavily used north/south roadway that connects Highway 26 and Tualatin Valley Highway (OR 8), congestion on Brookwood has decreased significantly, thanks to a partnership between Washington County, the city of Hillsboro and ODOT.
This partnership funded an 18-month, $13.1 million construction project that included widening Brookwood to three lanes in each direction and improvements to the intersections at Huffman Street, Shute Avenue, Evergreen Parkway and ODOT's improvements to the Highway 26 exit/entrance ramps.
The project accomplished its goal: Congestion relief. While traffic is still slow at peak commute times, the improvement is significant.
"As transportation planners and traffic engineers, we measure congestion by the number of vehicles on a roadway at specific times," said Andrew Singelakis, director, Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation (LUT). "But for travelers, the impact of congestion is not measured in cars, but in lost time, lost opportunities and lost experiences."
Congestion relief is about quality of life. The amount of time commuters, freight carriers and mass transit riders spend on the road means less time spent doing something enjoyable.
"I look at projects like Brookwood Parkway, where congestion is improved, and I think to myself, 'these drivers are going to get home earlier today than they did two years ago,'" Singelakis said.
"They'll have more time with their children - even if it's only 15 minutes a night. They'll get home in time to catch the news or to meet friends for dinner. Maybe they can sleep in an extra 10 minutes in the morning. Relieving traffic congestion isn't just about pavement and traffic lights - it's about improving lives."
There are highly congested areas that Washington County and its regional transportation partners would like to address - specifically the I-5 and I-84 connection in the Rose Quarter and widening both Highway 217 and I-205. "Relieving congestion in these bottlenecks has been a priority for years," said Singelakis. The Metro Council recommended funding for all three in June 2016, and the projects are priorities in the transportation funding plan under consideration by the state Legislature.
"I'm optimistic that the Legislature will pass a transportation funding package that will give Washington County and our transportation partners the funding we need to continue to improve the quality of life in the area," Singelakis said.
"People want - and deserve - to be able to get from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time." said Andy Duyck, chair, Washington County Board of Commissioners. "That's what all of us in transportation want to provide. But we simply can't do it without funding from the state."