An amendment to the city’s Transportation System Plan, which would help pave the way for a new north connection between the Canby industrial park and Highway 99E, is set to go before the Canby City Council before the end of the year.
The amendment is currently scheduled to be reviewed by the Canby Planning Commission Nov. 9 and the City Council later that month, according to Interim City Administrator and City Attorney Joe Lindsay.
Getting the new road into the TSP is critical because it would make the project eligible for System Development Charge (SDC) funds, which are fees paid by developers and earmarked for specific infrastructure improvements, including roads, sewer, stormwater and parks.
The costs have not yet been estimated for building the new road, which would extend South Walnut Street north of the existing city limits, ultimately connecting with Highway 99E near the Route 99 Roadhouse.
However, the city has already taken several steps toward making the new access road a reality, including buying a 3.7-acre property just north of the industrial park for $595,000 in urban renewal funds in June 2019.
There are two reasons for a sense of urgency for the project.
No. 1, city leaders recognize that industrial park traffic is increasing rapidly, with the massive new Columbia Distributing project now online and at least three to five other major developments in the works.
Mayor Brian Hodson told Canby Operations Manager Jerry Nelzen at a Sept. 2 work session that he wants to see the Walnut Street extension in place before traffic counts trigger a failure at the Sequoia Parkway-Highway 99E intersection — not after.
“I don’t want to wait 10 years, until we’re well past the failure of the Sequoia intersection, and we’ve out-built the capacity of the industrial park, and we can’t draw businesses there to drive the economics of our city — because we don’t have the right road put in,” he said.
Initial estimates were that the project could take seven to 10 years to complete. Hodson asked Nelzen if it could be done in two — to which Nelzen replied bluntly, “No.”
To acquire approximately 186,000 square feet of right-of-way, design and engineer the new road, work through the approval processes of the Oregon Department of Transportation (which manages Highway 99E) and actually build it will almost certainly take more than two years, Nelzen said.
But he thought it could still be done in a “really reasonable amount of time.”
The other reason to push forward on the project now is that all the property owners are in favor of it.
“Everyone’s on board with the direction we’re going right now,” said Nelzen. “That’s the hardest part of these kinds of things normally, getting everybody on board. They all like what’s going on here.”
The property owners will be compensated in several ways: directly — when the city purchases the needed right-of-way to construct the road — and indirectly, from the rise in property values and expected new development that will come once it’s installed.
“All the parties are highly incentivized to make this happen,” said Council President Tim Dale. “Nobody’s going to get a better deal than having our highway go through there and drive up their property values.”
Because of the expected price tag for the project, several elected officials have broached the possibility of a public bond measure proposal. Much more discussion as to funding for the new roadway is anticipated in the coming weeks and months.