Hillsboro mayor trying to resurrect corpse of Westside Bypass

In an e-mail missive sent out to many decision-makers in Washington County, Hillsboro mayor Jerry Willey is proposing legislative language to require ODOT to conduct a study on a “Westside Corridor”–which is defined as a

new, alternative state highway corridor route, and associated, supporting state and regional highway projects, west of Oregon Route 217 running north and south through Washington County and portions of Multnomah and Clackamas Counties and connecting to US Interstate Highway 5 at its north terminus approximately at Highway 30 and at its south terminus near the City of Wilsonville.

The e-mail contains numerous things: A memo to various government officials, a white paper in support of the project, and the aforementioned proposed language.

Within the white paper, a rather rough map describes the corridor as starting in Wilsonville, wrapping around the west side of Sherwood, up to Scholls, and then north to Hillsboro following the rough path of OR219, and then across the West Hills south of Cornelius Pass (but north of Germantown Road), intersecting US 30 south of Sauvie Island, crossing the Willamette into the North Portland industrial area somewhere south of Kelly Point Park, and then running along Marine Drive right up to the Expo Center, ending at I-5. The proposed routing, for much of its track, lies well outside the current Urban Growth Boundary for the Portland metropolitan area; the major exception is when it passes through Hillsboro. Obviously, this alignment, which the white paper at least once refers to as a “parkway”, could stand some refinement…

I guess no bad idea is ever truly dead.

That said, it appears that Mayor Willey apparently hasn’t read (or seen) the recent presentation from ODOT, which outlines the current funding realities for the agency. ODOT cannot cobble together funding for the CRC, or its own maintenance backlog–let alone numerous other projects in the pipe, with completed EIS’s waiting to go, such as the full build-out of the Pinot-Casino Highway or the Sunrise Corridor; projects that are (whatever their drawbacks) probably better-thought-out than this idea.

But regardless, it’s probably wise to have some silver bullets and garlic handy.


11 Responses to Hillsboro mayor trying to resurrect corpse of Westside Bypass

  1. Dave H
    November 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm Link

    My only complaint would be that it doesn’t follow a third crossing. Linking it to I-5 south of the CRC just assumes the CRC can handle the extra traffic.

  2. igor
    November 19, 2012 at 7:37 am Link

    I agree with Dave H, aside from trying to pull the western bypass back to the CRC bridge, getting I-5 out of the center of Portland sounds like a good idea.

    Is it a bad idea from a traffic point of view? Is it a bad idea because it would construct new roadway through farmland in Hillsboro, or are we conflating “bad” with “untenable” because the money for such a project will probably never be available?

  3. dan w
    November 19, 2012 at 9:46 am Link

    (Had trouble posting comments on this particular thread before, so I’m giving it another shot…)

    If the funding were to ever become available, I could conceivably support some sort of Westside Bypass; the northernmost segment is very similar to something I proposed on this blog with the upgraded Columbia Corridor a couple of months ago. And this latest bypass proposal does thankfully seem to avoid cutting through Forest Park and Sauvie Island.

    That said, I’d only support this idea with the caveat that the bypass retain its purpose of reducing congestion and keeping freight/commuters/recreational travelers moving, and not become a catalyst for more development along its ROW. Indeed, I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example of a bypass/ring road that hasn’t become a magnet for more congestion; one possibility is the 101 bypass of Cannon Beach which is a fast “Super 2″ with grade-separated interchanges and very little development. This seems to be the exception, however… I-205 has become as congested as I-5 (as is I-405 in Seattle), and I understand Belt Line Hwy in Eugene is having its own issues.

  4. zefwagner
    November 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm Link

    Yes, new beltways rarely solve anything, and usually make everything worse. They attract industrial and residential development around them and eventually become just as congested as before. At least we have a fairly strong UGB here, so it is not quite as likely, but in reality it will be used as an excuse to expand the UGB to surround it in the future. I could maybe support a plan that created a freight-optimized route going north from Hillsboro and connecting with Hwy 30 bypass, but only if it was done very carefully and was not actually a freeway. It would be really cool to have freight routes that actually levied a toll on non-freight users! I could also support improvements to Hwy 217 that bring it up to freeway standards.

  5. Lenny Anderson
    November 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm Link

    Which freight? Intell sends it stuff to PDX for export via air, not to any maritime dock. Portland exports 1% of westcoast containers. Wheat, our biggest volume marine export, comes in by rail and barge. “Freight” is now the stalking horse for more roadway capacity, but in the end its just more pavement for auto bound commuters.

  6. Anandakos
    November 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm Link


    Bravo! You are exactly correct. “Port”land is an anachronism. It should be “Chip”land or “Trainers”ville. Port? Only as an excuse to kill hardwoods.

  7. dave
    November 21, 2012 at 8:21 am Link

    I could also support improvements to Hwy 217 that bring it up to freeway standards.

    How is 217 not meeting freeway standards?

  8. dan w
    November 21, 2012 at 9:01 am Link

    If this thing is ever built, a multimodal facility would be ideal. Indeed, a ped/bike westside beltway of sorts is already in the works with the Westside Trail.

  9. EngineerScotty
    November 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm Link

    Regarding “Portland”, the city was named after Portland, ME; which was named after the Isle of Portland off the coast of Great Britain. The name may have once been a compound of “port” and “land”; but such usage long predates the establishment of Our Fair City.

    Regarding OR217; it is a freeway (save for the remaining traffic lights on the southern end, at the interchange with I-5); but its interchange spacing is well below “modern design standards”. Of course, modern design standards are meant to allow free-flowing truck traffic at 55MPH or faster; an excellent interim solution for 217 would be lower speed limits. They can rename it a “parkway” to get the point across. :)

  10. HappyCamper
    November 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm Link

    Hillsboro is in an interesting situation. It is currently attracting many thousands of new jobs but getting from here to anywhere else is a real challenge, because much of the transportation infrastructure, MAX excluded, hasn’t been kept up with the demand. It is really putting a damper on the ability of this region to sell itself to the rest of the world.

    People in Portland may forget that Hillsboro isn’t a suburb. It is a proper city with its own agenda that happened to get munged together with Portland as the suburbs grew to meet it. Why should our ability to leave here be yoked to Portland? Why not have our own connections to Vancouver and Wilsonville?

  11. EngineerScotty
    July 16, 2014 at 4:56 pm Link

    The Oregonian (and its affiliated paper, the Hillsboro Argus) is beating the drum a bit more.

    To make things a bit interesting, a commonly-proposed routing for the bypass (between Tualatin and Sherwood, then north along Roy Rogers Road, then using Tile Flat Road or Clark Hill Road just west of Cooper Mountain, then north into Hillsboro)–now has llots of urban fabric currently present, or coming, both in the South Cooper Mountain area, and the western side of Bull Mountain. And then there’s the South Hillsboro UGB expansion area. Back when the Westside Bypass was built, much (more) of this route was rural.

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