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July 4, 2013
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Guest column: Stewart Parkway project enters its 13th phase at the 'S' curves

The city of Roseburg is providing this information in an attempt to clarify incomplete and/or inaccurate information regarding a significant infrastructure project in southwest Roseburg.

The project is an improvement to Stewart Parkway between Valley View Drive on the north and Harvey Avenue on the south. The project has been referred to as the “S” curve project, not because it straightens out the curves, but because of the location of the project. The primary purpose of the project is to alleviate flooding and enhance traffic safety.

The city has been systematically upgrading Stewart Parkway since 1992. As early as 1987, independent traffic engineers recommended improvements to what was originally a two-lane road connecting Harvard Avenue and Stephens Street.

Eleven different projects were completed between 1992 and 2004. Most of these projects were completed using a combination of funding from Urban Renewal, Storm Drainage, Street Light/Sidewalk and local developers.

Local Improvement Districts were used where appropriate, and all of the projects between Garden Valley Boulevard and Stephens Street were within the North Roseburg Urban Renewal Area. To date more than $11 million has been spent to improve Stewart Parkway.

The most recent phase of the project, Phase 12 of the Stewart Parkway improvements included the widening of Stewart Parkway between Valley View Drive and the Ford Family Foundation on the west side of Stewart Parkway.

Phase 12 and the additional improvements south of Garden Valley do not fall within the Urban Renewal Area, and as such, funding has not been readily available to complete the next phase, Phase 13, which will include improvements from Valley View on the east side of Stewart Parkway through the intersection at Harvey Avenue. This project development was initiated during the 1990s, however preliminary design work started in about 2004.

The scope of the project includes widening the roadway, adding bicycle lanes and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks on the east and west sides of Stewart Parkway, providing for wetland mitigation, softening the curves referred to as the “S” curves, and most importantly, mitigating the potential for flooding at Stewart Parkway where Newton Creek crosses.

The primary interest in developing the project at this time is to alleviate the periodic flooding and closure of Stewart Parkway, which shuts down the city’s only north/south arterial west of interstate 5.

As development has occurred upstream from the duck pond area, the likelihood of flooding at this location increased. To address this concern, and also continue the eventual improvement of the remainder of Stewart Parkway through to Harvard, over the last five years the city has developed a current design that will incorporate the necessary drainage improvements to eliminate routine flooding and meet our current design standards for arterial streets.

The city attempts to meet these design standards whenever a public improvement is being made, which means we install sidewalks, appropriate bicycle lanes if the right of way allows, two travel lanes going each direction and a center turn lane where appropriate.

Property to allow for flood control and the eventual redesign of the roadway was purchased in 2000. Additional property will be needed to complete the project.

Resources for this project are budgeted from dedicated capital improvement funding in the Street Light/Sidewalk Fund ($350,000), the Storm Drainage Utility Fund ($600,000), and the Transportation Fund ($1,800,000).

Much of the Transportation Fund resource was generated from Transportation Systems Development Charges and is required by law to be spent on capacity-building improvements that are included in our Systems Development Charges methodology such as the Stewart Parkway improvement. None of these funds could be spent on general fund operations or non-capacity building projects.

Yes, we know it’s complicated, and that is why it is difficult for some to understand why this money is being spent on a project and not for operations.

In the last 10 years this project has been discussed by the Parks Commission, the Public Works Commission and the City Council on numerous occasions in many public meetings. We are currently in the permitting stage to ensure that we are compliant with wetland regulations and anticipate that the project will move forward in the next 12 to 18 months.

The city understands that there are questions about this project and we hope this at least provides some information that relates to most of them. The same or similar questions were asked during each of the previous 12 project phases. While we are not in a position now to complete the final phase(s) that will improve Stewart Parkway all the way to Harvard Avenue, this phase does get us a very necessary step closer.

A Q&A, historical information, and a design layout will be available soon on the city’s website at www.cityofroseburg.org. For more information call 541-492-6730.

Lance Colley is the city manager for Roseburg. He can be reached at 541-492-6866 or lcolley@cityofroseburg.org.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 4, 2013 09:20AM Published Jul 5, 2013 07:08PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.