County plans to keep three-lane design, and widen uphill lanes

Funding has been approved for road improvements along Northeast 238th Drive between Halsey and Glisan Streets, which will eventually relieve congestion on the three-lane roadway that winds through Wood Village.

At a recent Troutdale City Council meeting, Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick reported the funding is part of an agreement reached in the East Metro Connections Plan.

The plan was adopted last year by east county jurisdictions including Gresham, Fairview, Wood Village, Troutdale and Multnomah County to address north-south transportation improvements from Interstate 84 to Highway 26.

Improving Northeast 238th Drive was the highest-priority project of numerous other transportation improvement projects.

The project is estimated to cost about $7.3 million and is funded through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, Oregon’s four-year transportation capital improvement program, and the county’s Regional Flexible Funds Allocation.

Craddick told Troutdale city councilors the plan is to retain the three-lane configuration, with one lane downhill and two lanes uphill, but widen the lanes.

The two lanes coming uphill would be widened enough for larger trucks hauling freight. Sidewalks would be redone and bike lanes included, Craddick said.

“From what I know, they’re seeing it would be adequately safe,” Craddick said, in reference to the engineers responsible for designing the project.

Northeast 238th Drive has long been a concern for those who drive on it and a frustration to east county governments trying to agree on a solution and funding.

In response to the county’s design plan to keep the three lanes of travel, City Manager Craig Ward said there was an alternate design considered to make the S-shaped Northeast 238th Drive a straight road, and continue it as a right-of-way for Northeast 242nd Drive, which is four lanes.

But Ward said the county abandoned that idea.

“I understand it was dropped because of cost,” Ward said. He also said the city of Wood Village had concerns that a larger roadway would cause traffic that would impact neighborhoods at the bottom of the hill.

Ward said “the city is still left with this right-of-way for 242nd that is a theoretical concept.” And because the county dropped the design idea to build a “big straight road,” he said, “the right-of-way for it should be vacated.”

Troutdale Councilor Rich Allen supported that Northeast 238th Drive should be a four-lane road.

“Safety is a high priority for me,” he said. “Which is the main reason I was seeking funding for 238th.”

Allen implied it would be safer if there were two lanes, instead of one, down the hill.

Craddick said two lanes downhill won’t serve much advantage. “Putting two lanes in (downhill) won’t make it go any faster because you still have got signals on both sides of the hill,” she said.

Allen believes keeping the configuration as is would not change the problem as large trucks would still barrel down the single-lane hill.

The Northeast 238th Drive between Halsey and Glisan Streets is a heavy trafficked arterial connecting Interstate 84 to the cities of Wood Village, Fairview, Troutdale and Gresham.

The existing S-shaped road on a steep incline, is divided into two southbound lanes and one northbound lane with only a white line as a divider.

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