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Highway 26 access at 267th topic of meeting

ODOT will listen to east county residents views on restricting Highway 26 access


They’re calling it an intersection improvement project — to make it safer to travel on Highway 26.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) wants to achieve that higher degree of safety by limiting access to Highway 26.

But this is just an interim project. The ultimate project, which doesn’t have funding available, would build a full-access freeway interchange at Highway 26 and about 267th Avenue.

The interim project is scheduled for construction at the end of 2013.

Even though the interim project has been in the planning stages for a couple of years, ODOT is willing to listen to local residents’ views.

An open house next week has been organized to explain the details of the project to anyone interested, especially residents of Boring, Gresham and Sandy.

ODOT’s motivation is safety, said Jilayne Jordan, ODOT community affairs coordinator.

“Improvements to the intersections at 267th Avenue and Stone Road are needed,” Jordan said, “to accommodate development planned in the Springwater Industrial Area (in east Gresham), which would increase the amount of traffic at the 267th Avenue intersection.

With more vehicles on Highway 26 and fewer vehicles entering the highway at unsignaled locations, there is less likelihood of crashes and all that accompanies those unexpected tragedies — the loss of life, life-changing injuries and destruction of property.

ODOT wants to place median curbs, Jordan says, in the center of Highway 26 near its intersections with 267th Avenue and Stone Road.

The median curb would prohibit left turns from 267th Avenue and Stone Road onto Highway 26. It also would prevent motorists on 267th Avenue and Stone Road from crossing Highway 26.

Left turns from Highway 26 onto 267th Avenue and Stone Road would still be allowed, as would right turns from the local roads onto Highway 26.

This project, which would be similar to the current intersection of Kelso Road and Highway 26, also would add dedicated right-turn exit lanes from Highway 26 eastbound and westbound onto 267th Avenue.

The project also would install a one-way turnaround between the two directions of Highway 26, northwest (toward Gresham) from the 267th Avenue intersection, that would allow westbound drivers to access eastbound Highway 26 without going all the way to the signal at Palmquist Road.

The open house will take place from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, in the cafeteria at West Orient Middle School, 29805 Orient Drive.

The public may stop by anytime between 5 and 7 p.m. to review and express their concerns or approval on the preliminary plans for the project as well as talk to staff members from ODOT, Multnomah County and the city of Gresham. At 5:30 p.m., staff will provide a brief project overview for all in attendance.

Project information and open house materials also will be posted on ODOT’s Region 1 website starting Jan. 11.

Anyone unable to attend the open house will be able to review the documents and provide comments on the website for two weeks after the open house.

The website is at oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION1/pages/US26Springwater.aspx

For more information, call Jordan at 503-731-8237 or Joanna Valencia, senior transportation planner for Multnomah County, at 503-988-3043, ext. 29637 or Katherine Kelly, planning manager for the city of Gresham, at 503-618-2110.