Guest Post: Proposal for Upgraded Columbia Corridor/Bypass 30 Reroute

Another guest post by frequent reader and commenter dan w. We wish to remind readers that we are happy to run guest posts–simply email submissions to one of the moderators–ES.

Serving the Rivergate Industrial District, Portland Airport and a plethora of other
industrial/employment centers, the Columbia Corridor–aka Bypass 30 and its parallel routes–is a vital freight and commuter corridor but isn’t always on the collective radar. Indeed, this study dating back to pre-Y2K days is one of the few documents I could find that focus on this corridor. The document defines Columbia Corridor as extending between Rivergate and Troutdale, but for my proposal outlined below I’m focusing on the section between Rivergate and I-205.

After the jump….
(Click on link for full-sized image)

Mostly utilizing existing ROW, rerouting Bypass 30 onto this newly upgraded corridor would help relieve pressure on congested I-84 (freight rail improvements as outlined by local and state proposals are also a key component but I opted not to include them on my map). Also, while current bus service only runs along a few segments of the corridor, BRT or something similar along its entire length has the potential to serve countless employers. It can connect with the Red and Yellow MAX lines and various bus routes including 6, 70, 72 and 75.

Phase 1 should be relatively inexpensive and low-impact to implement (assuming a full freeway isn’t the chosen option). One option is an expressway, which is a combination of at-grade and grade-separated interchanges (think Hwy 224 between McLoughlin and I-205). In fact, several grade-separated facilities already exist on this corridor, and frontage roads and driveway consolidations along various stretches should also help with traffic flow. The key is to not have implementation of the corridor be so disruptive that it ends up eliminating huge chunks of the industrial facilities to which we’re trying to improve access.

Option A – NE Lombard to MLK (includes new ROW between Lombard Pl and MLK/ Columbia intersection)
Option B – Columbia Blvd to MLK

Option A – MLK to Marine Dr to N. Lombard
Option B – Columbia Blvd (includes new ROW to the north between Portland Rd and Upland Dr to skirt residential area) to N. Burgard

Although it tacks a couple of extra miles onto the corridor, I prefer Option A for the west segment because: 1) It generally avoids residential areas, 2) MLK between I-5 and Columbia is already pretty much limited access, 3) unlike Option B, a full interchange already exists at I-5, and 4) it offers direct access to my proposed Columbia River bridge.

Both east segment options have their advantages, but I’d prefer to have BRT run on Columbia rather than Lombard because it would directly serve more employers.

Phase 2…. Here comes the fun expensive part. Inspired by others’ posts on this blog, this part of the proposal calls for the corridor to connect to new bridges over the Willamette and Columbia, the latter being a third-bridge CRC alternative.

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12 responses to “Guest Post: Proposal for Upgraded Columbia Corridor/Bypass 30 Reroute”

  1. Thanks for this post! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Bypass 30 myself. I live just 2 blocks off of N Lombard St (Bypass 30) and see the problems on that street everyday. It is not a fun street to walk along or cross, buses must block the street, you’d have to be crazy to bike here, and it is very unsafe for cars. The lanes are too narrow and cars turning left without a turn lane create a variety of unsafe situations.

    I’m of the opinion that we need to shrink Lombard down to a 3 lane road (with a left turn lane) from St Johns to at least N Interstate but ideally to MLK. Some of the road already is 2/3 lanes closer to St Johns. This would give us room to add bike lanes and bus stops, make it safer to cross the street, make it safer to drive and even allow traffic to flow more smoothly with the left turn lane getting those people out of the flow of traffic. Its a no-brainer in my opinion, except for that pesky highway designation. Rerouting 30 Bypass would allow for PBOT to take control of the road from ODOT and enable street improvements that would benefit literally all users of the road.

  2. Thanks for weighing in, Tom. It’s great to have the perspective of someone who lives in the vicinity of the corridor; I agree N Lombard in its current form is a tad insane. This thoroughfare is one of the corridors under consideration for future streetcar service as called for in the Portland Streetcar Concept Plan, so it definitely has potential to be reinvented as a more local transit-friendly facility.

  3. I agree with Tom on the road diet idea. The sections of Lombard/HWY 30 that overlap with each other should be 3 lanes. The section to the east where they combine and to the west where they split should be five, along with major intersections. A 3 lane configuration would help resolve the problems with speeding, narrow lanes, and rear-end collisions. In addition to this, the sidewalks should be finished, additional signalized crossings added, and a MUP for bikes similar to the one found in Rivergate.

    Making this route into an expressway may reduce vehicle collisions, but it is going to greatly deter pedestrians and cyclists from using the area, unless complete facilities are provided.

  4. How would you put a highway along the northbank of the Columbia just west of downtown Vancouver, and going to a bridge crossing at Kelly Point? You would be taking some vital riverfront access away from industry.

    However I could see sending a connector below the upcoming Van. waterfront project from Hwy 14 to the other interstate crossing you have in green on your map. It would have to be done before they build anything in the way and probably would go just south of the RR line in Van.

  5. Why must there be BRT on this route? All that needs to be done is TriMet to create a route, assign some buses, install some bus stops, and maybe work with PBOT/ODOT to install some queue jumper lanes or reprogram the signal preempts (for buses)…voila. Instant cross-town bus route.

    Save the BRT deployment for routes that should have had BRT 15 years ago. Like the 4, 9, 12, 33, 57, 72.

    Also…there’s simply no money, and I would put my money on ODOT decommissioning U.S. 30 Bypass and turning it over to the city rather than trying to rebuild it. ODOT finally got rid of U.S. 30 Business (on Sandy Boulevard) and parts of U.S. 30 Bypass on its eastern end have already been turned over to Multnomah County. There is already truck access to Rivergate via Marine Drive (which has seen a lot of upgrades, including a new railroad overpass) and Lombard (which also has received a new railroad overpass). And many savvy truck drivers just use SR 14 east rather than I-84. East of U.S. 97, the speed limit on 14 is higher than 84, and it saves a little time if they’re headed to I-90 (via U.S. 395).

  6. I’m not familiar with WA14 east of, say, White Salmon–but the part between White Salmon and Washougal is notoriously curvey and slow. I can’t imagine it would be preferable to truckers for speed reasons.

    OTOH, I can imagine truckers using it to avoid Oregon’s weight-mile tax….

    Generally, though, I would agree that BRT treatments would be better on existing bus corridors. I think a Parkrose-St. Johns route would be useful, particularly one that handles a lot of the industrial destinations (outside of work hours, there’s not much demand in these parts of NoPo). I’ve got a forthcoming article on highway reconfigurations–but US30 Bypass ought to be moved off of Lombard, in any case. It functions poorly as a bypass (Columbia would be better suited to this, although I question whether US30 needs a bypass given the current routing of the highway on NW Yeon), and is fundamentally an urban arterial and not a regional facility.

  7. How would you put a highway along the northbank of the Columbia just west of downtown Vancouver, and going to a bridge crossing at Kelly Point? You would be taking some vital riverfront access away from industry.

    Granted, I’m not that familiar with the Vancouver riverfront west of I-5, but the approach wouldn’t necessarily need to run right alongside the river before curving south. An elevated approach mounted on pillar supports (which have a much smaller footprint than a berm) is one possibility, or – dare I say it? – a tunnel underneath the river. Ultimately, the cheaper alternative would be the route alongside the railroad bridge.

    I concede BRT might be overkill on the Parkrose-St. Johns route, but some sort of continuous east-west service is long overdue on this corridor. And Scotty, I look forward to your highway reconfiguration article.

  8. I question the need for more transit service between points within the corridor. The need is for connections from where people live in OR & WA to jobs in the corridor. One big gap there is C-Tran’s failure to run a Limited line down I-5 to MAX Yellow. From Expo the new 11 offers a few trips to Rivergate, but then its the Yellow Line that connects to other portions of N/NE PDX…Swan Island, U of P, and of course the jobs in the Interstate corridor itself…two hospitals, major retail, Lower Albina industry and Lloyd District.
    Its true there is a lot of heavy truck traffic on SR 14 even over Cape Horn…it makes for nasty driving further east where the old tunnels from the 30’s still serve.

  9. It seems like the new Line 21 on outer Sandy could continue all the way to St Johns on this corridor, connecting on the way to lots of other bus lines and Yellow Line MAX.

  10. That’s a great idea. The service hours would be compatible, as well. All sections have similar industrial-type uses, which typically have earlier working hours. One of the issues with the 12/21 is that they do not start early enough to get riders to work by 6am. This needs to be remedied.

  11. I think the quick solution is a three lane option posted above, and if not that Lombard needs a soild bus line from the st. johns bridge to parkrose that runs better more frequent, and can get a line that services linnton more frequently. It’s under serviced.

  12. C-tran’s 44 is an express that runs to the delta park max stop, I used to take it. C-tran does all it can with that clogged bridge

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