Its the first new highway (2.15-miles) in the Portland Metro Area in over 30 years. Yes, you read that correct — 30 years!
As many have noted, it seems the state won’t build a mile of road without a mile of bike path. Many years ago we were told transit would reduce congestion, now we are told we need to build more light rail and we have to just get use to highway congestion. Most commuters have all but given up on ever seeing extra lanes on constantly congested Oregon 217. The highway now carries the most traffic in Oregon, with more than 30,000 vehicles a day. Yet, when surveyed most in Washington county are more concerned about parking at the Nike company store than relieving congested highways. And then you have Oregon researchers claiming that when it comes to improving freeway traffic flow, sometimes a bigger road really isn’t a better one.
Road expansion in Oregon does not move quickly. Similar to the winter rain there is a drip, drip, drip process which requires lots of analysis. For example the Sunrise Expressway project had been under discussion since the mid-1980s. They broke ground for the project in August 2013 and it took three years to complete opening on July 1st.
Gov. Kate Brown led a dedication on June 30th to big fanfare and media coverage. She announced that the project will improve safety and ease congestion for people who walk, drive and bicycle in Clackamas. Likely there was a lot of angst by needing to include the word “drive” to that announcement. So, after three decades of planning and three years of construction, the Sunrise Expressway, opened. The four-lane, 2.15-mile highway extends the Milwaukie Expressway east to Southeast 122nd Avenue where it links with OR 212/224 – the Clackamas Highway.
Congrats ODOT for getting as much use as possible out of the OR 212/214 transportation system we had up to that point. You’ve spent $130 million on 2.15 miles of highway of which $100 million came from the Jobs and Transportation Act passed in 2009 by the Oregon Legislature. For a detailed review of the project please see HERE.
Next up are those “smart” highway signs (variable speed signs) which have been in place for well over a year now. I’m curious how that is working? Will we be hearing the sound of crickets…
Photo courtesy of ODOT.