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Pamplin Media Group – Trail project from Forest Grove to Hillsboro gets federal funding

A federal grant program recently awarded $12.2 million for the Council Creek Regional Trail.

A project to build a bike and pedestrian path connecting Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove recently received substantial support through a federal grant.

In November, Washington County received $12.2 million to support construction of the Council Creek Regional Trail.

The grant was awarded through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Originally designed over 10 years ago, the project aims to build a 6-mile multi-use trail, adjacent to train tracks no longer used for freight, north of Highway 8 between downtown from Hillsboro and downtown Forest Grove. This is part of a larger goal to extend the trail to Banks and other nearby regional trails.

The project took a big step forward in 2015, when a partnership of local governments completed the Council Creek Regional Trail Master Plan, outlining a strategy for creating the trail.

Most recently, in 2020, officials from Washington County, Metro, Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and TriMet formed the Council Creek Corridor Task Force to advance the project.

But securing funding for the project has been a challenge, as the story of Washington County’s RAISE grant application indicates.

The $12.2 million awarded through the grant will cover the bulk of the estimated $18.8 million in construction costs, according to the grant application.

Washington County had requested $21.2 million in funding through the grant. The overall cost of the project is estimated at $26.5 million.

MAP COURTESY: WASHINGTON COUNTY - A map shows the proposed route of the Council Creek Regional Trail, which would include a new route for pedestrians and cyclists between Forest Grove and Hillsboro.The county and other partners have committed $5.3 million in funding for final design, engineering and construction costs.

Washington County officials were not immediately available Friday, Dec. 17, to comment on how they plan to raise the remaining money for the project.

The task force plans to continue to seek additional funding as needed to complete the project, according to a statement from Hillsboro officials announcing recent grant funding.

The trail will provide pedestrians and cyclists with a safe route between the three cities, providing alternative transportation options for people commuting to work, school, transit, recreational destinations and parks, the application says. of subsidy.

Momentum for the project has also grown as safety conditions along area roads, particularly along Highway 8 – signed between Cornelius and Beaverton as the Tualatin Valley Highway, and variously such as Adair Street, Baseline Street and Pacific Avenue in Cornelius and Forest Grove – deteriorated. during the last years.

“I think if you give bikes and pedestrians an alternative and drive them down, I think, one of the most dangerous highways in the state — that stretch between Forest Grove and Hillsboro — it matters,” Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax said in an interview. . “I did that on a bike, and it’s not a pleasant experience.”

There were 50 traffic accidents involving pedestrians and 37 involving cyclists along Highway 8 between 2010 and 2019, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Eight of these incidents were fatal.

As government officials expect to implement more and more safety measures along the highway, Truax noted, it may take many years to do enough to significantly improve conditions. That’s why the Council Creek Regional Trail is also a necessary project, he said.

Several other elected officials from the area celebrated the funding of the grant as announced.

“Oregonians are looking for opportunities to be outdoors, and this new trail in Washington County will provide safe access,” said U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici. “This new trail will finally provide residents of Forest Grove and Cornelius with a safe route to transit connections in the metro area, reducing injuries and deaths on a deadly stretch of highway.”

Juan Carlos González, who represents Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove and parts of the Beaverton area on the Metro Council, said, “I am delighted that Washington County has received RAISE funding for the Council Creek Regional Trail Project. I grew up a mile away from where this project will be built, and it fills my heart with joy to have this hallway transformed for kids like me and families who call the West End home. victory for the communities of Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove which have long experienced critical infrastructure investment gaps.”

Construction on the project could begin as early as 2026 and be completed as early as 2029, Hillsboro officials said.


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