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City Council Votes to Underground Utilities on the Jackson School Road Project
The Hillsboro City Council voted to underground all utilities in the public right-of-way on both sides of Jackson School Road during its meeting on April 3.
NOTE: This article has been updated for accuracy. A prior version of this article incorrectly stated a second reading and vote by the City Council would take place on April 17. This Council decision is not an ordinance and does not require a second reading and vote. Our apologies for the error. Faced with essentially a "now-or-never" decision to underground utilities on both sides of Jackson School Road, the Hillsboro City Council voted to change the Jackson School Road Project's design during its April 3 meeting. Several Councilors cited safety as a determining factor in the decision to bury power lines on the east and west sides of the gateway street connecting Downtown Hillsboro and Evergreen Road.
The initial project design called for moving the aerial utilities on the west side of Jackson School Road and the aerial lines crossing the road within the public rights-of-way underground, at a cost estimated to be about $500,000. Modifying the project to underground all utilities in the public right-of-way on both sides of the road will add an estimated $2.25 million to the cost of the $14 million project, along with any construction cost increases due to inflation. Additionally, the change in the roadway design will extend the construction schedule on Jackson School Road by one year so that it starts in 2019 and ends in 2022.
The Council and community members who spoke during the public comment portion of the Council meeting resoundingly voiced a preference for the utility poles to be buried underground, leaving the question of the project's additional costs and the source of funding up for discussion. Ultimately, the Council voted to prioritize the design changes to the Jackson School Road Project, while relying on City staff to recommend options to pay for the changes at a later date.
Prior to the vote, the Council held a Work Session to discuss options for undergrounding utilities on Jackson School Road.
NE Jackson School Road between NE Grant Street and NE Evergreen Road is a collector street serving as a north-south link between Downtown Hillsboro and Highway 26. Jackson School Road is currently a two-lane roadway with an intermittent center turn lane, intermittent sidewalks, limited roadway lighting, and no bicycle facilities.
Improving the Jackson School Road corridor has been part of the area’s Transportation System Plan for more than four decades. The City of Hillsboro took charge of the Jackson School Road Project from Washington County in 2015. The project will provide balanced access to and from NE Jackson School Road to adjacent residential neighborhoods for all modes of travel, and:
Improve the corridor to provide one-way cycle tracks along both sides of NE Jackson School Road
Construct sidewalks and install street lighting over its entire length
Add a center turn lane to provide safety for left-turning vehicles onto and off of the roadway
Construct new creek/drainage crossings
Construct a roundabout at the intersection of NE Jackson School Road and NE Harewood Street