State and Washington County leaders gathered along OR 217 Friday to highlight the benefits communities will see from the new project that will bring improvements on and off the highway.
When complete, the OR 217 Auxiliary Lanes Project will make the road safer, address long-standing highway bottlenecks and complete the parallel north/south bicycle and pedestrian network. In addition, the work will improve the movement of freight, speed emergency services and ensure the corridor can help address the multimodal transportation demands of the 21st century.
ODOT Director Kris Strickler described the OR 217 project as an important component of HB 2017, the transportation bill passed by the Legislature in 2017.
“We just celebrated the five-year anniversary of House Bill 2017. That gave legislative direction to move forward with not just with projects that facilitate roadway connections, but projects that serve our entire system,” Strickler said. “That means this project has very important connections with the bicycle and pedestrian improvements that we’ll see as part of the construction.
“At ODOT we are working toward building a comprehensive strategy that brings all of our projects into a common understanding that they work in a comprehensive way. That they work with each other, and they work with our partners.”
Project work will take place along the southbound lanes between Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and OR 99W and along the northbound lanes between OR 99W and Scholls Ferry Road. Improvements will take place on adjacent local roads as well.
- New pedestrian and bicycle improvements enhancing local neighborhoods and expanding opportunities for people walking, bicycling and rolling.
- Auxiliary lanes we expect will reduce highway crashes by 20% to 30%.
- A frontage road for southbound drivers connecting Allen Boulevard and Denney Road, making trips safer for drivers by decreasing merges onto OR 217.
The project comes after years of community conversations and thousands of public comments gathered through meetings, online open houses, emails and phone calls. Neighbors told planners about the role OR 217 plays in their lives and what kind of improvements would help.
Beaverton City Councilor Marc San Soucie said the upgraded road will bring visitors to Beaverton after years of bringing Beaverton residents elsewhere.
“Not far from here our downtown is transforming and our new center for the arts will open next week and draw visitors from everywhere” he said. “And many of them will use 217 to get to downtown Beaverton.”
OR 217, once a local road with traffic signals, runs between Beaverton and Tigard with 10 interchanges in just over seven miles, some of the shortest freeway merging spacing in the region. The short interchange spacing on a road with an average of 120,000 vehicles a day leads to high crash rates and resulting travel delays.
The project aligns with our Strategic Action Plan calling for a modern transportation system. The effort employs many tools necessary on today’s highway system, including modern roadway safety features and full corridor facilities for people walking and riding bicycles.
Most work will take place at night. Some daytime work on this project is unavoidable. Travelers should expect occasional lane closures, ramp closures and detours. We expect completion by the end of 2025.
The improved road will improve emergency response times for crews trying to work their way through traffic jams.
“There’s often so much congestion that our firefighters and paramedics have to find different routes to emergencies, which costs precious time,” said Cassandra Ulven, director of government & public affairs for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.
The project cost of $158 million comes primarily from HB 2017, the Keep Oregon Moving transportation package approved by the Legislature in 2017. Washington County and the City of Beaverton are also funding partners.