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Volume 14, Issue 7
July 2016


Butner Road neighbors seek traffic solutions

Butner Road runs south of, and roughly parallel to, the Sunset Highway, from Murray all the way to Park Way near the Cedar Hills shopping center. The county classifies it as a “collector,” although in many places it’s a narrow, two-lane road with no sidewalks or even space for a path. Nice older homes are built close to the road, making any future widening prohibitively expensive and unlikely.

In early June, a group of residents gathered in the fire station community room at Butner and Murray to meet with CPO and county representatives to discuss their safety concerns. Among the problems they spoke about were traffic noise, the lack of pedestrian and cycling space, the difficulty for pedestrians of crossing the road, the speed and congestion of traffic, lack of sight distance, and the frequency of accidents that results from these conditions. An entrance to Commonwealth Lake Park is tempting, but neighbors don’t feel safe getting there on foot.

Motorists driving eastbound on the Sunset Highway often exit on Murray and use Butner to cut through to Cedar Hills Blvd. to avoid the dysfunctional eastbound offramp at Cedar Hills Blvd. It will be several years before that is fixed, if the proposed partnership mentioned in our May article is implemented. But increased population and infill housing will continue to add pressure to this road.

A narrow roadway makes Butner an unlikely "collector."
A narrow roadway makes Butner an unlikely "collector."

Mike Mills, Neighborhood Streets Coordinator for Washington County, heard their concerns and shared some suggestions. Although as a “collector,” the road isn’t eligible for the Neighborhood Streets Program, he said they can pool their resources to buy, install, and maintain a flasher at some road crossings.

Mills also mentioned the possibility of landowners donating Right-of-Way (ROW) to enable the county to create the widened road margins that can serve as pedestrian and bike paths. The Urban Road Maintenance District (URMD) already has Butner on its list of proposed “Small Road Improvement Projects,” but the cost of obtaining ROW counts against the likelihood of these projects moving forward.

Butner intersection.
Butner intersection.

Many of the neighbors were unaware that they live in urban unincorporated Washington County, and not in a city. Their zip code is Portland, 97225, and they expect city-level services. But they pay county-level taxes, albeit with the surcharge for the URMD. That is one reason that nearby cities aren’t in a rush to annex our neighborhoods—there’s such a backlog of road and sidewalk deficiencies that it would break city budgets to try to bring them to urban standards.

People don’t expect to be told that they’ll have to pay from their own pockets to get needed safety improvements. But in Washington County, that’s the way it’s likely to stay for a long time.

The Butner neighbors have been invited to attend the CPO1 meeting on Tuesday, July 12,. Mike Mills, Neighborhood Streets Program Coordinator for LUT, and our County Commissioner Greg Malinowski will also attend to provide more information about what neighbors can do.


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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2016