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Boring demands to be heard

Boring residents, upset with ODOT plans, invite officials to meeting


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - POST PHOTO: JIM HART Vehicles traveling at 55-60 mph on Highway 26 whiz past cars waiting to enter the highway at Stone Road. Boring residents are asking ODOT to keep the intersection open and to install a signal to make the intersection safer.Some Boring residents are unhappy with the actions of the Oregon Department of Transportation. And some are taking it personally.

ODOT has limited access from Highway 212 to the urban reserve area, said Boring community leader Steve Bates, and ODOT now is proposing limited access to Highway 26.

“Why is ODOT anti-Boring and anti-business?” Bates asked. “Boring has (at least) 250 businesses.”

He asked the “anti-Boring” question after learning of the plan to limit access to Highway 26 for Boring-area residents and that ODOT officials were reluctant to revise the plan.

“As a result (of ODOT’s plans), Boring has a bleak future as ODOT is taking away reasonable access to Highway 26 and limiting access from Highway 212,” Bates said.

Some residents of the Boring/east Gresham area were disappointed after attending the Jan. 10 open house with representatives of ODOT, city of Gresham and Multnomah County.

Some who attended said they didn’t have their questions answered to their satisfaction or they didn’t like the answers they received.

“ODOT’s lame excuse against a (traffic) light at Stone Road is that adding a stoplight on rural highways causes increased accidents,” said Richard Crampton, who lives on 267th Avenue.

“That needs to be weighted against how many (crashes) occur (currently) without a light and without stopping local drivers from using the highway.”

Other people at the open house didn’t like the idea that no questions were allowed after ODOT and Gresham officials made a presentation to the group of more than 100.

Therefore, ODOT officials were asked to make another presentation and answer more questions along with the Clackamas County Transportation Department when they join the next meeting of the Boring Community Planning Organization.

CPO Chairman Bates sent several questions to ODOT officials, at their request, to give them time to prepare answers in advance of the public meeting.

CPO Vice-Chairman Steve Wiege says he would like to have a two-way dialogue with ODOT representatives.

“I hope (the CPO meeting) becomes an open discussion,” he said. “I hope people come to this meeting because (these projects) are going to affect so many of us.”

The projects include a freeway-style interchange (not yet funded) near 267th Avenue and Highway 26 as well as an interim project that changes the 267th and Stone Road intersections with Highway 26 to match the Kelso Road intersection (right-out, left-in).

Officials from the city of Gresham say the proposed changes are planned in advance of developing land east of Gresham for industrial businesses.

Springwater interchange

The approved interchange plan (which Boring residents did not see before it was approved) would limit access to Highway 26 from side roads.

Crampton sees the proposed changes as part of a masterminded plan to drive property values down so that government could buy the land at reduced prices.

He says nothing is happening in the so-called Springwater Industrial Park, which has a significant amount of wetlands.

“No industrial developer with a lick of common sense would look at (land in the area) twice,” he said. “There is no reasonable access to I-84, no access to rail, and no utilities like those available on the north side of Gresham.”

Bates says Boring residents want to know how ODOT decides which county has control of Stone Road, since it runs through both Multnomah and Clackamas counties.

Bates and other CPO members also object to the part of the plan that would completely close access to Highway 26 at both Stone and Haley roads.

Bates poses the question for two reasons, he said. Why is Haley road even mentioned, he asked, when it is outside of the interchange management area? And he cites Oregon Revised Statute 374.060 that he says requires county concurrence to close any intersection.

Bates says he hears from Boring residents who are concerned that 15-20 years in the future, when funding is found for the interchange and industrial development begins to occur, whichever ODOT officials are in charge at that time will just follow the written plan and close Highway 26 access from Haley and Stone roads.

That’s why he wants it revised now.

Bates objects to the plan also because Clackamas County’s Comprehensive Plan (CP) and its Transportation System Plan (TSP) were not considered in the interchange plan.

By its own rules, Bates says, ODOT requires that interchange plans be made a part of TSPs and CPs.

“At the same time that the city of Gresham, Multnomah County and ODOT were planning the Springwater (interchange),” Bates said, “Metro and Clackamas County came to an agreement to establish urban reserves in Boring.

“But the Springwater (interchange plan) closes all viable access to the urban reserves from Highway 26.”

Temporary changes

Before the interchange is engineered, funded and constructed, however, ODOT wants to install what its officials describe as a safer configuration of the roads.

Citing safety as the motivating factor, ODOT Transportation Engineer John Wolf said late last year ODOT plans to reconfigure Highway 26 and two of its intersections.

Wolf wants to reduce car crashes by not allowing drivers to cross the highway or to turn left onto the highway. The intersections of 267th Avenue and Stone Road would then look like the highway’s intersection with Kelso Road.

That change would mean that anyone approaching Highway 26 from the south could only enter the highway going toward Sandy, and drivers approaching the highway from the north could only travel toward Gresham.

Those drivers also would have a turnaround available, where they would have to merge from a dead stop into 55-mph traffic without an acceleration lane.

In ODOT’s plan, this revision would stay in effect until the interchange was constructed — perhaps 10, 15 or 20 years in the future. At that time, both Stone and Haley roads would have their access to Highway 26 closed.

“The (temporary plan) as proposed,” Bates said, “limits access to Highway 26 for thousands of Clackamas County residents.”

That plan, with its turnaround, also puts drivers approaching the highway from the north and wishing to travel to Sandy at risk of a crash. Bates said it “appears to be death waiting to happen.”

Bates said he didn’t understand the logic in the turnaround proposal, noting that ODOT officials’ standard answer to any suggestions from local residents has been, “We cannot do that because of safety.”

“I feel like these people (ODOT) have already made up their minds,” Wiege said. “If you ask questions, they just give you their talking points.”

Meanwhile, Bates and several others continue to push for a signal at Stone Road and Highway 26 because they believe it is the logical choice for access to the Springwater area as well as much of Boring and its urban reserves because it connects to 282nd Avenue.

For more information, contact Bates at 503-663-6712; Jilayne Jordan at ODOT, 503-731-8237; Katherine Kelly in Gresham, 503-618-2110; or Joanna Valencia, Multnomah County, 503-988-3043, ext. 29637.

For a graphic presentation of the proposal, visit oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION1/Pages/US26Springwater.aspx