Benefits of Basalt Creek Pkwy project should not overshadow environmental concerns

Claire Roach, Co-Opinion/Web Editor

The Basalt Creek Parkway Extension is a Washington County project that will build a new road between Boones Ferry and Grahams Ferry roads in Tualatin. The plan for this area includes a five-lane road with bicycle and pedestrian facilities and is meant as traffic relief from I-5. While it has yet to begin construction, controversy has sparked surrounding concerns for environmental impacts that this project could have.

Photo courtesy of Washington County Land Use and Transportation.

On first look, a nice, new road could be a good thing. It would mean a faster commute to Wilsonville, an alternative to driving over the hundreds of potholes on Day Rd. and the next step in Washington County’s development plan.

However, Tonquin Road has already cultivated an area for mounds of trash to pile up as a result of neglect and thru-traffic pollution. Being a runner for the school’s cross-country team, I end up near Tonquin often. As soon as I get near the business area, my lungs immediately tense from the air pollution. A combination of trash, factory smoke and constant car exhaust fumes makes it hard to breathe, and adding another road will only multiply the negative impact on the environment.

An environmental impact assessment was conducted by groups like HDR and HMMH, and nothing was found that would bring a stop to the project. I would argue that it is hard to understand the effects of projects like this without growing up and living in our community. Corporate groups that determine the effects that industrialization projects have on communities examine the impact from a technical, not personal, scale. Not only are the sides of roads littered with trash, but it will bring in truck-traffic on top of the Tualatin High School and Horizon Christian morning traffic. Another intersection on Boones Ferry will end up canceling out the convenience of taking the road in the first place. Native plant and animal habitats will be destroyed, and pollution such as run-off from oil on the roads will create extensive problems for species in the area.

Whether we recognize it or not, we have responsibility over our own safety as well as the ecosystems around us. Oftentimes the appeal of convenience wins over the pull for change, but with the effects of climate change at the point of no return, it has never been more important that, as a community, we take into account the permanence of our actions.