By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

About $450,000 was approved from the city’s street fund to pay for part of an improvement project on Chemawa Road N.

While it’s not expected to break ground until 2012, surveys and plans will be taking place throughout the next 12 months.

Total project cost is about $2.30 million, with about $960,000 coming from the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program and another $883,000 from the Transportation Enhancement Program.

From River Road west to the city limits – just west of 15th Avenue – separated sidewalks, bike lanes and rain gardens will be added, Public Works Director Rob Kissler said.

From the city limits west to Keizer Rapids Park, a multi-use paved path will be installed. Between the path, sidewalks and bike lanes it will allow pedestrians and bicyclists access all the way to Keizer Rapids Park without having to use the roadway or the shoulder.

What is up for debate is what the intersection where Chemawa, Windsor Island Road and Shoreline Drive meet will look like. Possibilities include a roundabout and adding turn lanes.

Kissler said surveys and determining exactly where the public right-of-way is – and how much will need to be acquired – will play a role in what happens there.

“Until we do that we won’t know what design elements will fit,” Kissler said.

He has requested that staff from the Oregon Department of Transportation take a look at how to improve the intersection.

Councilor Cathy Clark is intrigued by the roundabout idea, saying it could move traffic more efficiently and reduce drag racing incidents.

“If they can do the engineering and make it work that will solve a number of problems,” Clark said. “… I got a lot of positive feedback on the idea of a roundabout because it’s going to stop the drag racing. That hadn’t even occurred to me as one of the benefits.”

A stoplight and turn lanes will be added at McNary High School’s Celtic Way, Chemawa and Delight Street.

“We have a huge congestion problem at that intersection before and after school,” Clark said. “It’s a very heavily used road and especially when we have events at the high school and elementary school we can get people moving through that intersection more safely.”

Kissler noted that while a portion of the to-be-improved Chemawa Road is in the county, the city has an agreement with the county to maintain that section of road.

The rain gardens will be similar, but not exactly like, the separated sidewalks and bioswale installed on Dearborn Avene N.

“They worked very well on Dearborn,” Kissler said. “We had absolutely no localized flooding,”