Highway 26 widening on track for 2017
Route will be six lanes from Cornelius Pass Road to Portland
Highway 26 is growing up. The highway, which was completed in 1949, will soon be going from two lanes to three lanes in each direction between Cornelius Pass Road and 185th Avenue, a distance of two miles.
When the project is completed, Highway 26 will be three lanes wide in both directions from Cornelius Pass Road to downtown Portland.
The segment planned for expansion from highway milepost 62.3 to 64.3 has seen increased usage and resulting congestion in recent years. In addition to the two new lanes, the two existing bridges over Rock Creek will be replaced with one new bridge. Also part of the project is rebuilding the Cornelius Pass Road entry and exit ramps in the northwest quadrant of the interchange, including adding a second lane to the southbound off-ramp to Cornelius Pass Road. And new, 12-foot high sound walls will be built to help alleviate traffic noise for residents in the Rock Creek neighborhood.
The project which is projected to cost between $26 million and $31 million is a joint effort of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Washington County and the city of Hillsboro.
Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck said the widening project has been in the works for many years.
We (Washington County) paid for engineering costs when the last section was being done several years back, Duyck said. It is a state project and a state obligation, but by paying for engineering, our hope was to induce the state to continue widening westward. It is now paying off.
In 2013, work was completed on the widening of Highway 26 to three lanes each way between Cornell Road and 185th, and this project will push the three-lane territory another two miles farther west.
From the countys perspective, this is a pretty important project, added Stephen Roberts of the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation. The need to widen this section of U.S. 26 to six lanes was originally identified starting in the early 1990s. In the current county Transportation System Plan, Highway 26 is identified as eventually being widened to a six-lane facility out to Brookwood Parkway to serve the additional industrial growth anticipated in North Hillsboro.
State officials believe the highway has reached its vehicle capacity in the area being targeted for added lanes.
The congestion is particularly evident on U.S. 26 westbound between Cornelius Pass and 185th, read a statement from ODOTs Lili Boicourt. The population and employment in Washington County continues to grow, increasing the traffic demand on U.S. 26. Without improvements, congestion and related crashes are anticipated to increase in the area.
This is extremely important, as it is the jobs corridor of the region, Duyck added.
Construction is not expected to begin until 2017, with completion expected in 2018.
The design takes a while, and there is not a lot of money for new projects right now, said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton. There are a lot of engineering studies required so we know exactly what we need to do.