In just a few weeks a major transportation improvement project is set to begin at Cornelius Pass. The project will close the busy route from July to October.
The road will need to be closed to through traffic between Highway 30 and Germantown Road in Washington County for 11 weeks during construction. This will detour about 13,000 vehicle trips each weekday onto other roads.
In a continuing series of special reports, The Chronicle is closely following how this project will impact traffic and commerce throughout the region and in Columbia County.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy David McGarry said the pass closure will mean large trucks will be diverted along routes into Portland.
“Which will make traffic worse and make traffic go up routes, such as Logie Trail Road, Rocky Point Road and others, which may cause more crashes,” he said.
McGarry said other impacts will be increased residential traffic from Highway 30 to NW Skyline and down into Washington County.
“Residents will see an increase in traffic in their neighborhoods, which probably won’t make them happy,” he said.
McGarry said his agency will add additional patrols to help ease the congestion.
“We will spend more time around NW Newberry, NW Logie Trail, NW Rocky Point Road, NW Skyline, than we normally do,” McGarry said.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies will partner with other area law enforcement agencies, according to McGarry, to check drivers speeds and traffic habits.
McGarry recommends that motorists using the Cornelius Pass impacted by the closure add more time to their commute, be patient and remain calm.
“Leaving earlier on your trip will cause the stress factor to go down, which in turn will stop drivers from taking aggressive actions,” he said. “Call 911 or the nonemergency phone number if you see people riving recklessly. Don’t engage by honking at the reckless driver or antagonize the driver.”
Oregon State Police Government and Media Relations Captain Timothy Fox said congestion from the pass closure will be the most widespread impact.
“OSP will do our best, with limited resources, to assist the construction crews and keep traffic moving as safely as possible,” Fox said.
Communications between regional law enforcement agencies and others about how to best deal with the traffic impact of the pass closure began months ago, Fox said. To commuters and visitors who will face the congestion, Fox said patience will be key.
“Plan ahead,” he said. “Realize for things to get better, this has to be done.”
Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said the closure of Cornelius Pass will have a big ripple effect for the residents of Columbia County.
“We have many people who commute to and from the West side from our county and this closure will definitely add to the congestion and commute time.
Pixley said his agency will be utilizing traffic grant funding to enhance patrols in the county.
“The bulk of these issues will not be in Columbia County, but we will do our part to ensure people's safety,” he said.
Pixley echoed the recommendation from Fox and McGarry.
“My best advice is to commuters is one word, patience,” he said. “This closure will be difficult for everyone, but we need to be patient because ultimately this construction will increase everyone’s safety in the end.”
Public informational meetings about the pass closure improvements and the impact are being conducted by Multnomah County. The first was held on June 5 in Portland. Other meetings are set for Tuesday, June 11, from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at Scappoose High School Auditorium, 33700 SE High School Way, Scappoose and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 17, at Westview High School Cafeteria, 4200 NW 185th Ave., in Portland.
Read more about the pass closure and follow this developing story at thechronicleonline.com and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.