By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A proposed revamp of Wheatland Road North is among the top projects on the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments’ (MWVCOG) Regional Transportation System Plan.

MWVCOG helps coordinate funding for projects with regional as well as local impacts. Bundling projects that effect numerous areas bolsters chances of receiving state and federal funding and takes the burden off local taxing districts. The Regional Transportation System Plan is currently being updated and area residents can complete a survey on the plan goals at bit.ly/2IHkpop through Monday, April 16. Comments can also be submitted via email to Karen Odenthal, Kodenthal@mwvcog.org.

The project is high on the priority list for Mayor Cathy Clark who is seeking a third term. During an interview announcing her candidacy in February, Clark, who is chair of the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study Policy Committee, had high hopes for what a redesign can accomplish.

“We have to take a deeper look at the design of Wheatland for safe and sustainable use,” Clark said. While some area residents have championed the idea of reducing the speed limit on Wheatland as a catch-all solution, Clark has a bumper sticker-worthy response, “Design works better than signs.”

Developing a plan for the Wheatland corridor that includes multimodal transportation such as cycling and pedestrian routes – with enhanced crossing options – is among seven other items on the MWVCOG to-do list in the immediate future. The redesign will include the entire stretch of Wheatland from River Road North to Clear Lake Road Northeast

In a January meeting of the policy committee, Clark noted that Wheatland Road serves a diverse cross section of the community. In addition to single-family residences, multi-family residences, and two nearby schools, the road serves two churches, a large retirement community, a Marion County Fire District No. 1 station and as a freight route for agriculture coming in from north of Keizer. Accommodating water treatment issues, turning movements and additional crossings will also factor into the redesign.

The design portion of the rework is expected to cost about $213,000 with Keizer chipping in about $22,000 and federal grants paying for the remainder. If the overall grant package, which will need to be vetted by the Oregon Department of Transportation is approved, it could bring in about $9.3 million worth of improvements to the Salem-Keizer area. Work on the Wheatland redesign would commence in 2020.

The Wheatland redesign is the only Keizer project being submitted for funding this time around but several other Keizer projects remain on the larger list of improvement opportunities including: additional east- and west-bound turning lanes onto the Interstate 5 southbound ramp; reconfiguring the intersection of Chemawa Road Northeast and Lockhaven Drive Northeast; and realigning the intersection of River Road North with Manzanita Street Northeast.