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Multnomah County says the contract will not be able to finish the project by the time the road needs to reopen

PMG FILE PHOTO - A section of Cornelius Pass Road.Cornelius Pass Road in Multnomah County will now reopen on Oct. 18, but the contractor will not be able to complete the entire safety project and work will resume next year.

"We are profoundly disappointed that we were not able to complete construction during this year's road closure," said Multnomah County's Transportation Division Director Ian Cannon. "We know that this road closure has been very disruptive to thousands of commuters, residents and businesses. We thank everyone for their patience during construction. When completed, this project will make Cornelius Pass Road safer for all road users. We are committed to improving safety on the road and completing this project in 2020."

The change may increase the overall cost of the project, although that will not be determined until next year and the contractor may face financial penalties. The county has had to prevent trucks from taking unapproved detours on narrow surrounding roads during the construction.

The Multnomah County section of the increasingly used connector to Washington County has been closed for a safety improvement project. Multnomah County announced Friday that time is running out for some of the work that must be done in an environmentally-sensitive waterway with a limited work season.

"Construction began in July and was expected to be completed in September. Unfortunately, the construction team experienced a number of schedule impacts that prevented project completion within the permitted season for paving and in-water work," Multnomah County said Friday.

The county said it is hiring a construction consultant who will be tasked with reviewing this year's construction issues and problem-solving so that the remaining work can be completed in a timely manner in 2020. County staff will also work to determine the 2020 construction schedule and whether or not the road needs to be closed in 2020 during construction. The section of Cornelius Pass Road south of Skyline Boulevard will not need to be closed to cars in 2020.

According to the county, the road will reopen Oct. 18 because the Oregon Department of Transportation plans to close the ramp from Highway 30 to I-405 south in northwest Portland for 11 days of repairs. Trucks that have been detoured from Cornelius Pass Road onto Highway 30 and I-405 would face a longer detour during the ODOT work. The arrival of rain and colder weather also prevents much of the remaining Cornelius Pass Road work from being completed.

The county says general contractor Wildish Standard Paving was unable to complete the project this year for several reasons. They include: not being able to get parts for a temporary traffic signal at Highway 30 and N.W. Newberry Road on the primary detour route, which postponed the start of field work; redesigning a culvert under the road near N.W. 8th Ave. deciding to build it offsite rather than in the field; and changing the method of removing a steep rock face in the "S" curves from explosives to machinery.

Much of the work has been completed, including constructing four vehicle pullouts, improving sight distances and shoulders at the Kaiser Road Intersection, and improving curves south of Plainview Road. More work will be done before the Oct. 18 reopening.

You can read a previous Pamplin Media Group story on the project here.


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