City, ODOT explore highway bypass

Keianah Weakland
Opinion Editor

The City of Sandy continues to grow in population, tourism, and traffic as the town expands their attractions. The Sandy Highway 26 bypass road was proposed on Aug. 27, 2019. The city has wanted this bypass due to all of the traffic and back up in town for most of the year. 

During the Winter, everyone is traveling to or from the mountain, including many people from Portland or further. In the Summer months, traffic is backed up because of Holidays, camping, hiking, lakes, or traveling to the Sunriver area. 

“The Sandy City Council decided to explore a Highway 26 bypass as an option to help alleviate the traffic and congestion issues in town which in turn could help our downtown become a more walkable and pedestrian friendly environment for shopping, eating, etc.,” City Manager Jordan Wheeler said.

As the years go on, the traffic throughout Sandy has gotten worse. This can be very good for Sandy because there are many tourists that stop for a bite to eat, coffee, groceries, or gas. But because of all these people going in and out of town, it’s becoming less safe for many people to walk about the town. 

“We are only in the initial phase of studying the feasibility of a bypass which means things like the route, cost, what the impacts or benefits to business might be, and when it realistically would be built, have yet to be determined,” Wheeler said. 

The city is currently working with ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) to work out where the bypass would be, what needs to happen, when it will happen, and much more.

 ‘According to a memo from Wheeler’s office, “The proposed scope of the study would include a traffic analysis and forecast, and a preliminary cost/benefit analysis that would include a planning level route and cost, environmental factors, impacts to business, and safety and time benefits.”

Even with the proposed plans, there is still a lot more to figure out for ODOT and the City of Sandy. This was proposed last year and there is a lot more information to be confirmed before starting the project’s construction. The proposed study is foreseen to be completed by the end of 2021.

“It’s a large amount of money and it will take years to build, but it’s just talk right now,” Community Services Director Tanya Richardson said.

The cost for the study of the bypass is estimated to be between $80,000 and $100,000. ODOT has approved to give $30,000 to the city for this project study, but the city would need to pay the remaining amount of money. If the City Council approves, the City will have to pay about $70,000 depending on the total cost.

The Sandy City Council proposal for a bypass road costs an overwhelming amount of money, but it will help impact the safety of tourists and residents walking about town. The city predicts that in 2040, many intersections and the US 26 corridor will make it safer for pedestrians and create less traffic in town.

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