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Residents concerned about lack of repaving, longer commutes, dangerous detours

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Multnomah County Communications Coordinator Mike Pullen answered questions from the audience at a June 11 public meeting held at Scappoose High School. Attendees credited Pullen with always responding when they reached out with questions and concerns, even when he couldn't accommodate their requests.

Updated June 17 to include new information about stop signs along detour route.

With just weeks remaining before Cornelius Pass Road closes for long-awaited safety improvements, community members gathered in Scappoose this week to voice questions and concerns about the road closure beginning mid-July.

At the June 11 meeting, Multnomah County Communications Coordinator Mike Pullen shared the long saga of fatal accidents, funding gained and lost, and planning.

"After 12 years, we are ready to do this work and inconvenience a lot of people and make the road safer," Pullen said.

The road will reopen by Sept. 21.

Cornelius Pass Road, which connects Highway 30 to Hillsboro, will be closed from Highway 30 to Northwest Germantown Road. More than 13,000 trips are made along Cornelius Pass each day. Many of those trips are commuters who traverse the narrow, windy road twice a day.

The recommended reroute is along Northwest Newberry Road. Later this month, the project contractor Wildish Standard Paving will install a temporary traffic light at the intersection of Newberry Road and Highway 30. Along the detour path, stop signs are being changed to allow a continuous drive. At the meeting, Pullen said there would still be one stop sign along the reroute, but after this story was published, Pullen said that he had since learned that all of the stop signs along the detour route would be relocated.

Newberry Road and Rocky Point Road both reopened in April after being closed for two years and a few months, respectively.

"Going up, if you hug it, it's fine," Columbia County resident Judy Gettman said of Rocky Point. "But if you look at coming down, there's all kinds of marks where it's still sliding ... If you're going to use Rocky Point, go up, but don't come down."

Logie Trail Road can also be used as a detour path, but officials are urging commuters to choose safer routes. At some points, the road is so narrow that two cars can't pass each other, Pullen explained.

Rocky Point and Logie Trail won't have traffic lights installed where they intersect with Highway 30, which resident Phil Soth sees as a severe safety risk.

The construction on Cornelius Pass Road won't address what some community members see as the main problems on the road.

"The major problem is the too-heavy trucks on a farm road that isn't built for them and that they don't need to access," one attendee said.

Columbia County resident Marie Gadotti refuted that statement, arguing that the road was built for commerce.

The $5.65 million for the project can only be used for safety improvements, rather than work to simply make the ride more pleasant.

"If we are not going to repave (Corn Pass) and fix all those dips, that's a safety concern," Gadotti said. "You can't fix stupid, and stupid's what the most problems are on that road ... There's bad truck drivers, don't get me wrong, but I can tell you there are a lot more other folks that just aren't using their heads."

Soth noted that no Columbia County government representatives attended the meeting. At Wednesday's Columbia County commissioners board meeting, Commissioner Alex Tardif apologized for missing the meeting and asked that citizens share their concerns with him at 503-397-4322.

Trucks won't be allowed on Newberry Road, so truck drivers will have to take Highway 30 to Highway 26. Commuters on Highway 30 may experience longer commute times, as the roughly 1,500 trucks that travel on Cornelius Pass each day will soon be adding to highway congestion.

Transportation officials have also encouraged commuters to carpool during construction by visiting this website.

Mike Pullen can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-209-4111.


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