For many months the Johnston City Council has been deliberating over plans for connecting Birchwood Court with NW 54th Ave. This road extension is important for future development in the area. Two near-term actions are needed to facilitate the construction of this road connection. First, a determination about where the road will connect with NW 54th Ave. was needed to ensure efficient traffic flow and to provide for the safety of families and children crossing NW 54th to reach Timber Ridge elementary school. This topic was considered by the Council last fall. During a work session in August, 2015 the Johnston City Council discussed the road connection. A traffic study indicated that the connection of a road from NW 54th Avenue to Birchwood Court would reduce traffic congestion on the intersection of NW 86th Street and Birchwood Court, and indicated that one option would be to align the Birchwood road extension with Foxboro Road – creating a four-way intersection. The City Council subsequently approved the construction of a public road from NW 54th Avenue to Birchwood Court at a meeting in September, 2015. The road extension would align with Foxboro Road.
The second needed action was to acquire the necessary right of way for the road, including a property adjacent to the proposed intersection with Foxboro and NW 54th Ave. The City has sought a voluntary easement for this right of way, and has delayed action several times in an effort to secure an agreement with the affected property owners. When those efforts failed, the City properly took initial steps to condemn a portion of certain properties which would enable the City to acquire the necessary easements for the road extension. It is important to note that the City is not seeking to take the property – but to secure the easements necessary to construct the proposed adjacent roadway. On several occasions, after scheduling public hearings for the easement condemnation, City officials delayed action when it appeared that there might be a potential for securing a voluntary easement. But each time the prospect of a cooperative agreement has fallen through.
This has apparently happened again. At their meeting on May 16, 2016 the Council had scheduled a public hearing on the matter. The Council acted to continue the public hearing to a future meeting, and it is anticipated that further efforts will be made to secure a voluntary agreement. In a new development, representatives of the Green Meadows West Homeowners Association appeared before the Council to object to the alignment of the road extension with Foxboro Road. The representatives expressed concern about potential increased traffic on Foxboro.
We believe that this proposed road extension is a necessary prerequisite for further commercial development in Birchwood Crossing. Opportunities for development projects in this area have been lost, because of absence of this road extension. It is time to move forward. To their credit the Johnston City Council has been deliberative, transparent and fair in their efforts to secure a voluntary easement. They have also been thoughtful about traffic and safety issues with respect to the intersection with NW 54th Ave. and Foxboro. Hopefully, the necessary easements can be secured so that the project can proceed.