The city of Hermiston will tackle a redesign of the Harper Road-Geer Road intersection, but will have to purchase some property first.
On Monday night, the Hermiston City Council voted to give staff authority to negotiate with the railroad a purchase price for two parcels totaling less than an acre.
Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said the city’s engineers, Anderson-Perry, worked on a number of possible redesigns, including options that do not require purchasing land, but ultimately decided the acquisition was necessary for the safest realignment of the intersection.
Among the challenges facing the city are traffic flow, utilities, angle of entry and vehicle stacking – meaning there is little room between railroad tracks and a stop sign for more than a couple of vehicles to line up at a stop sign. The new design will allow for multiple vehicles to line up at the stop sign.
One of the design options included a roundabout that solved most of the challenges, but would have been impractical considering the number of large trucks that would have to travel around it.
The cost of the project is estimated at $1.5 million, the single biggest project in the first four years of the city’s most recent capital improvement plan.
Morgan said the intersection is currently unsafe and has been the site of nine reported accidents since 2004.
The cost of the two parcels is estimated at $65,000. The city will attempt to negotiate a price with the railroad or enter go into eminent domain proceedings which would set the price at its fair market value. The council vote was 6-1 with City Councilor Manuel Gutierrez voting no, stating he could not support acquiring the land through eminent domain proceedings. Council Jackie Myers abstained due to a conflict.