Cornelius Pass Road closure extended to October

Washington County

Northwest Cornelius Pass Road is currently closed for safety improvements which are intended to reduce the high rate of accidents on the road as of Aug. 30, 2019. (Anna Del Savio/ Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The target date for reopening Cornelius Pass Road has been pushed to sometime in October, a delay from the initial target date of Saturday, Sept. 21.

The road has been closed since July 22 for major road safety improvements. The closure was initially expected to start earlier in July, but faced multiple delays, including a wait to receive parts for the temporary traffic light installed at Highway 30 and Northwest Newberry Road, where the detour route begins.

“The contractor started nearly three weeks later than they thought they were going to initially,” Mike Pullen, the spokesperson for the Multnomah County Transportation project, explained Tuesday.

Pullen said he did not believe the overall length of the closure would be much longer than the duration originally estimated. A reopening date of Oct. 7 would put the closure at the 11-week duration that Multnomah County had estimated in May. Earlier in the year, the county had estimated 13 weeks, which would mean reopening Oct. 21.

In response to a number of illegal truck trips on the detour route, Multnomah County placed flaggers at two intersections on the Hillsboro side of the closure. The flaggers, while funded by Multnomah County, are located in Washington County. Pullen said law enforcement advised the county that the majority of the illegal truck trips had been traveling from Hillsboro to Highway 30, rather than originating on the Highway 30 side.

Throughout the closure, large trucks have attempted to traverse the narrow, windy path along Northwest Newberry Road, resulting in numerous crashes and delays. The flaggers at the intersection of Northwest Old Cornelius Pass Road and Northwest Phillips Road and the intersection of Northwest Phillips Road and Northwest Helvetia Road will stop trucks before they get on the detour routes and ensure that truck drivers don’t simply turn around and take another illegal route. Trucks are not permitted on the detour route for cars, and must instead take Highway 26.

Multnomah County’s agreement with Wildish Standard Paving, the contractor on the project, sets out penalties for completing the project later than Sept. 21. The contractor could face a $6,650 penalty per day.

“The contractor has the ability to dispute those if they want to argue that the closure (extension) was not due to them,” Pullen said.

Since school started last month, speeding on Northwest Skyline Boulevard has become more of a concern for law enforcement and the community. Skyline Elementary School is located on Northwest Skyline Boulevard, right along the detour route.

The contractor is currently working on electrical work for lights to alert drivers as they approach tight curves on Cornelius Pass, installing safety signs and guardrails, and removing an old culvert and installing a new one, according to the most recent project updates distributed by Pullen.

“I think people are going to notice some really nice improvements once the road does reopen,” Pullen said.

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