Linden: No good alternatives if Cornelius Pass closes
As someone who was born and raised at the top of Cornelius Pass Road, I have to question Multnomah County's claims that closing it for four months for safety improvements will not cause serious traffic problems ("Cornelius Pass roadwork will divert traffic for 4 months").
There are no reasonable routes to switch 10,000 to 14,000 commuters onto. Personally, I don't think the county has managed this part well at all. Their plan to hopefully be done with Newberry Road, which is currently closed by a landslide, and divert traffic there is unrealistic. Especially when the majority of traffic is headed west on Highway 30 and not back into Portland. That means most will try to go to roads like Logie Trail or Rocky Point. Have you driven them?
For starters, even if the county can reopen Newberry, you have to realize that it has a ton of curves and a switch back that is very tight and steep, even for a less-than-40-foot truck. Also, I remember running up to accidents on Newberry, but honestly, most were bicycles on blind curves. I wonder if the county is considering that there will probably be bike traffic in the summer on this narrow road, during the planned closure.The benefit of Newberry as an alternate route will have a limited effect.
Next is McNamee. Well, what can I say, except "don't." Lots of curves that tighten up as you go into them that can be challenging for inexperienced or timid drivers. Then there is the trestle, where it reduces to essentially one lane. Then it dumps onto Highway 30, where there really aren't the best sightlines for a left turn.
After McNamee is Logie Trail. Talk about a goat trail. There are places where two cars have trouble fitting, let alone putting a truck on that road. All the curves and switchbacks, and talk about drop-offs. I won't be on this one.
Next is Rocky Point. Now, this is where a lot of locals usually go, but it's a long travel up Skyline Road to the north to get there, and it is a windy road with many tight switchbacks. I have followed some horse trailers down this road, and it is scary to even watch. This road is better than Logie Trail as far as condition, but not by far.
Not any good choices for commuting over the mountain, and as most people I talk to believe, the work they are doing is just a Band-Aid. So why isn't Multnomah County finding a better way to do this? Well, it's money. Multnomah County got money from the Oregon Department of Transportation to do the road improvements, and the county wants ODOT to take over responsibility for Cornelius Pass, as approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature. ODOT has said they won't take over the road until the county spends the money they got on the road. So the county says they will shut down the road to get the work done as fast and efficient as possible, regardless of the impact on the public, so they can turn over the road to the state sooner rather than later.
Here's to hoping they both understand the problems that are coming.
Erik Linden is a St. Helens resident.
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