Current Issues

Traffic Safety in French Prairie

Traffic Safety in French Prairie: Introduction

On September 7th, nearly 200 residents of the North Marion County/French Prairie area gathered at the Donald Fire Station for a community meeting to raise concerns over the safety of our roads – and our local officials heard us. We need to use this opportunity to gain the momentum to get our local leaders to take action and help us protect lives!

The commuter traffic coming and going from the Newberg area has impacted east/west along McKay/Ehlen Roads and also south into St. Paul and beyond. Not only has traffic made it very difficult on local residents and farmers, but it has turned North Marion County into the most dangerous traffic area in the entire county.

We all know how much the new developments at the Donald/Aurora interchange have impacted our roads. Now we have recently learned more about two major impacts on our roads that will open in 2017:

First is the Newberg/Dundee By-Pass, which ends at Hwy 219 (rather than 99W). Depending on how commuters and truckers respond, it appears that McKay/Ehlen Road to the Donald/Aurora interchange could now become the new “regional by-pass” to connect Interstate 5 with the Newberg/Dundee By-pass. This project is scheduled to open in late 2017 and may likely create thousands of new car and truck trips per day!

Second is the new Willamette Valley regional fertilizer depot at the intersection of St. Paul Highway and Butteville Road. Although we support agricultural uses that support our local ag industry, the impact of trucks going to and from the facility will be significant. But most importantly, local citizens were not informed or encouraged to participate in how to deal with the traffic impacts of this new facility. The approval of this facility is behind us, but raises the issue that we need to make sure that any new applications go through a more complete review process.

In addition to these two developments that will increase traffic along the I-5 Exit 278/Ehlen Rd/Yergen Rd/McKay Rd corridor, Wilco/Hazelnut Growers of Oregon has begun site preparation for a 119,912 square foot building to replace the HGO plant in Cornelius and consolidate operations at Donald to include nut processing and shipping, as well as processing of finished consumer hazelnut products and a retail operation. This will drive additional significant traffic.

At the present time to comprehensive Traffic Impact Analysis has been completed the considers the growth of the last ten years plus these three new developments, and no traffic mitigation is being discussed.

We want to build a positive process and lay out a “safety agenda” before the next decision has to be made. Out of the community meeting, we created the SAFETY FIRST AGENDA to recognize the challenges and identify solutions. Now we are asking you to sign and return a petition of support. Let’s work together to build momentum for creating safer roads for all of us!

This petition is being mailed to every address in north Marion County. If you didn’t receive it, you can download it below. Remember, we are a small population but are disproportionately impacted, so we need every local resident to sign the petition and return it to us. You may use the enclosed return envelope to return your petition.

Thank you for your support.

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Traffic Safety Impacts of the Wilco/Hazelnut Growers or Oregon Facility in Donald

The first site to be developed in the Donald Industrial Park, on the city’s north boundary facing Butteville Road, is a massive (approx.. 240,000 sq. ft.) building divided into two parts. The north portion (119,925 sq. ft.) will be the new Hazelnut Growers of Oregon facility and the south portion (118,225 sq. ft.) will be the new distribution warehouse for Wilco, to supply their retail stores.

DIP Building A Front Elevation

Click for larger view.

Site preparation is under way and permits for construction have been submitted, and the impact on traffic safety promises to be massive, coming on top of ten years of development with limited traffic mitigation and improvements.

DIP Building A Overall Site Plan

Click for larger view.

Friends of French Prairie has done a detailed analysis of the public and internal communications of Wilco/HGO as well as of the documents submitted for this project, and it appears to us that the Traffic Impact Analysis is being substantially understated. This is a potentially huge problem because it means that as part of project approvals, Wilco and their developer will only have to pay for limited traffic mitigation (for instance, no traffic signal at Ehlen Road and Butteville Road), and this will further compound the ever-worsening traffic safety problem in French Prairie.

We have submitted a lengthy letter to Marion County and City of Donald detailing our concerns and pointing out the weaknesses and shortcomings of the documents submitted by the developer. We urge you to read the letter and related Exhibits.

The letter calls for a pause to development approvals until a comprehensive Traffic Impact Analysis is completed, and this formal request is supported by our petition efforts detailed below.

Download these documents in PDF below:

  1. Letter to Marion County and City of Donald
  2. Exhibit 1: HGO Traffic Impact Analysis (August 2016)
  3. Exhibit 2: Wilco Traffic Impact Analysis (Octo0ber 2016)
  4. Exhibit 3: Group Mackenzie Traffic Impact Analysis (2007)
  5. Exhibit 4: Friends of French Prairie Letter (August 2009)
  6. Exhibit 5: Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza Notiec
  7. Exhibit 6: Newberg Graphic article on Newberg-Dundee Bypass
  8. Exhibit 7: Capital Press article on new Marion Ag Service facility
  9. Exhibit 8: Marion Co. Sheriff Traffic Safety Presentation (Sept. 2016)
  10. Exhibit 9: Wilsonville Spokesman article on Traffic Safety meeting in Donald
  11. Exhibit 10: Westnut web page
  12. Exhibit 11: Albany Democrat-Herald article on increase in hazelnut production
  13. Exhibit 12: Capital Press article about rising hazelnut prices
  14. Exhibit 13: HGO presentation to members on strategic plans
  15. Exhibit 14: HGO-Wilco newsletter about new food processing plant
  16. Exhibit 15: Structural Permit Application to Marion County
  17. Exhibit 16: Florida DOT Trip Generation Study on Distribution Centers

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