We appreciate the concerns of Erik Linden ("Cornelius Pass Detour Plan full of holes," Jan. 22), who commented on the traffic plan for our summer 2019 construction on Northwest Cornelius Pass Road. The planned road closure will impact traffic, especially drivers of large commercial trucks who will, unfortunately, face a long detour.
As Tribune readers know, Northwest Cornelius Pass Road is often closed due to vehicle crashes, including on the day before Mr. Linden's letter was published. The Oregon Legislature responded to this problem by allocating funds to Multnomah County to make safety improvements after a crash that killed a Scappoose teenager. There have been several more fatal crashes on the road since we began working with the community to select safety improvements. As the agency in charge of the road, it's up to Multnomah County to make the road safer.
There are few good alternate routes nearby when Northwest Cornelius Pass Road is closed for 13 weeks, starting July 8. But closing the road allows the contractor to work in multiple areas, thereby cutting three weeks off the time the road needs to be shut down (compared to closing one segment at a time).
To help with traffic flow during the closure, we will install a temporary traffic signal at Highway 30 and Northwest Newberry Road, which will be part of the designated detour for cars and small trucks. Northwest Newberry Road, which was closed by a landslide in 2017, will be repaired in time to be used as a detour this summer.
Our current traffic plan will not allow trucks larger than pickups on Northwest Newberry Road or other side roads when Northwest Cornelius Pass Road is closed. Trucks larger than pickup trucks will be detoured to Highway 26, and trucks with hazardous loads will have a longer detour to Highway 217, since they are banned from the Highway 26 tunnel.
The Oregon Legislature directed ODOT to take over the section of the road between Highway 26 and Highway 30 after this project is complete. Multnomah County did not seek this change of jurisdiction.
Multnomah County's project team has worked with members of the community to select improvements to the road that create the most safety benefit for motorists for the least cost. We understand that the work will inconvenience many drivers. If the improvements can avoid another loss of a life, we believe the work will be well worth this summer's inconvenience.