Benton County’s transportation plan is getting an update.

State law requires that each county have a transportation system plan — known as a TSP for short — to integrate its transportation planning with regional and statewide planning efforts.

"The (Oregon) Department of Transportation is trying to get all counties to update their transportation system plans, along with localities," said Benton County Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo.

"It's pretty routine to do these every few years."

The last major update to Benton County’s plan was completed in 2002.

The plan covers not only roads and bridges but air, rail, bicycle and pedestrian transportation as well. It is required to give equal consideration to alternative modes of travel, such as public transit and nonmotorized vehicles.

One of the main reasons for the update is to make sure Benton County’s plan dovetails with the plans of adjoining counties and regional entities such as the Corvallis- and Albany-area metropolitan planning organizations, said Lili’a Neville, the county’s public information officer.

“They really want to make sure it’s coordinated and not some random plan that sits on a shelf,” she said.

The planning process is expected to take about 18 months, with the bulk of the work to be completed by December 2018 and final adoption by April 2019. The effort will be led by the Public Works Department with assistance from DKS Associates, a national transportation consulting firm with offices in Salem and Portland.

A stakeholders advisory committee is being formed to guide the planning process, and a technical advisory committee made up of state, regional and local agency representatives will provide regulatory review. Benton County residents interested in volunteering for the stakeholders committee can contact the project team using a link on the TSP web page, www.co.benton.or.us/tsp.

Meetings of the stakeholders group will be open to the public, and a number of community workshops will be held to keep the public informed of the project’s progress. Scheduling details and planning documents will be posted as they become available on the TSP website, which also has online forms for taking public comment.

Neville said county officials “want to get community input before they make hard and fast decisions” about the TSP update.

Some of the recommended projects likely to be included in the updated TSP are safety improvements along the Highway 20 corridor and a network of bicycle and pedestrian paths in and around Monroe, Neville said.

Transportation system improvements can be costly, however, and are always dependent on funding availability. The 2002 TSP update identified the need for nearly $120 million in improvements, many of which were never completed.

Among the items on the 2002 wish list still waiting to be done: widening Highway 20 to four lanes between Corvallis and Albany; widening Highway 20/34 between the bypass and the Y intersection in Philomath; widening Highway 99W from Northwest Walnut Boulevard to the railroad overpass (roughly half of which has been completed); and replacing the single-lane Van Buren Bridge over the Willamette River.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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