Crews have encountered challenges, but continue to make progress at the Cornelius Pass Improvement Project.
The project began in late July and is expected to be completed in late September. The pass is closed to through traffic between Highway 30 and Germantown Road in Washington County. This will detour about 13,000 vehicle trips each weekday onto other roads.
The steep, winding and narrow section of NW Cornelius Pass Road has a long history of crashes. The project will reduce some of the rural road’s sharp curves, increase sight distance for drivers, improve road shoulders, and install caution signs, guardrails and barriers.
The following is a conversation with Multnomah County Communications Officer Mike Pullen about the project.
The Chief: Is the improvement project still on time and on budget?
Pullen: There have been schedule challenges and we are working with the contractor to make changes to keep the work on schedule as much as possible. We are still targeting to reopen the road in late September.
The Chief: Over the next two weeks, what significant and specific work will take place?
Pullen: The contractor is working on some Saturdays and may work the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. In the next two weeks we expect the contractor will excavate to remove the culvert under Cornelius Pass Road near NW 8th Ave. and begin installing the new culvert. They should also be proceeding with excavating the cutslopeabove the S curves. These work items are to realign the curves to be less sharp.
The Chief: What traffic issues have been consistent, how have they been dealt with and by whom?
Pullen: Some of the best news is that car traffic on the detour route over the west hills has flowed fairly well and traffic delays have been manageable. Truck drivers continue to illegally use truck restricted roads in the West Hills. The Sheriff's deputies in Multnomah and Washington counties have issued citations and signs are installed about the truck restrictions. Trucks should use the highways during the closure.
The Chief: Are there issues that have developed along the alternative routes? What are those issues and how are they being resolved?
Pullen: We have received comments about short term traffic delays at the signal at Hwy. 30 and NW Newberry Road. The project team has responded to these comments and have made adjustments as needed The project made a number of changes to traffic control along the detour route, including adding signs and removing vegetation to make signs more visible to drivers.
The Chief: What worries or concerns you the most at this point?
Pullen: The contractor still has some work items to complete before the road is reopened to traffic. We have an experienced contractor and we are working to resolve issues as quickly as possible. It is exciting to see photos of areas where sharp curves will be realigned to be easier for drivers to navigate. And county maintenance crews have been able to repair potholes and degraded pavement areas during the road closure.
Pullen also provided the following information in his weekly update about the Cornelius Pass Project.
Back to School Traffic
August 28 was the first day of the Portland Public Schools academic year. There are some changes in K-12 school bus routes while NW Cornelius Pass Road is closed. Check out school bus routes for each school at the PPS Transportation website.
With school in session, road users will see more traffic, including school buses. Be alert for changes in traffic and note the school speed limit by Skyline Elementary School on NW Skyline Blvd. The school is on the main detour route while Cornelius Pass Road is closed.
Paving: The base layer of asphalt pavement has been placed at the new vehicle turnouts and at the NW Kaiser Road intersection, where the shoulder has been paved.
NW 8th Ave.: The rock base has been placed where a curve in the road south of Hwy. 30 has been realigned.
S Curves: Test drilling of the rock overcrop above the roadway has been performed. The contractor is evaluating the best method to remove rock above the road so that the S-curves can be realigned. Drilled shafts are being built to support flashing warning beacons that will be installed on the curve approaches.
Permanent safety signs and guardrail are being fabricated for installation in September.
Sheriff staff from Multnomah and Washington counties have cited drivers for speeding and taking illegal truck trips on side roads. Only trips to a destination on a side road are allowed by trucks. Trucks need to use the highway for through trips.
Dump trucks have been reported illegally using NW Newberry Road to reach a Metro-owned property. Metro (503-797-1700) has been contacted to get their contractor to stop this practice.
To report an illegal truck trip, call the non-emergency number for Multnomah County’s Sheriff Office (503-823-3333, Dial 5).
Provide the location, date/time, license plate (if known) and vehicle description.
For more information visit, www.multco.us/compass and follow developments of the Cornelius Pass Improvement Project here online and in the Friday editions of The Chief.