The pending closure of the Cornelius Pass brought out frustrations during a public meeting in Scappoose.
During the 11-week improvement project from July to October, the pass will be closed to through traffic between Highway 30 and Germantown Road in Washington County. This will detour about 13,000 vehicle trips each weekday onto other roads.
Officials are alerting commuters, visitors, businesses, and commercial trucking companies that the impact will be felt region wide, including in Columbia County.
"The scope of the project was a concern and several people said they would like to see the entire roadway paved," Multnomah County Communications Officer Mike Pullen told the Chronicle following the Tuesday evening, June 11 meeting at Scappoose High School. "But I explained that we can only use the money for public safety and how the legislature wanted the project, so it is not a paving project."
Others at the meeting voiced frustrations about the conditions of the side roads that had potholes, brush, and railroad trestles, and spoke of preferences for other alternative routes.
Pullen said his team will carefully review all the comments made at the series of public meetings being conducted in the region about the pass project and its closure impact.
"We get so many good ideas at these meetings," he said.
One example that Pullen cited are concerns expressed about the safety of the participants in the August Hood to Coast Relay Race. Because of the pass closure, thousands of vehicles will be forced to use the same route as the runners and walkers in the race.
"We want to make sure all those runners and walkers are safe and that the event organizers know that there is going to be different traffic patterns and trucks on Highway 30, Pullen said.
While Multnomah County continues to work with a variety of public and private agencies and the media in helping people understand the impact of the pass closure and to best prepare, Pullen said he is still worried.
"It is fire season," he said. "And I am worried about that. I think public safety is something that this project has brought to the surface.
The next public meeting to review the pass closure and its impact will be conducted from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 17, at Westview High School Cafeteria, 4200 NW 185th Ave., in Portland.
Read more in the stories attached and in The Chronicle's continuing special series of reports at thechronicleonline.com and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.