A Short History of the Thompson-Saltzman Road Intersection

old thompson map

By Bruce Bartlett

Washington County Online Open House January 7-23. [will be listed on this page when it’s ready: https://www.co.washington.or.us/LUT/open-houses.cfm]

The corner of NW Thompson Road and NW Saltzman Road historically had a curious offset configuration, probably due to quarter section allotments when the property was homesteaded by the family of Laurence Lehman and other early settlers. In the course of time, it became necessary to upgrade the disjointed four-way stop to be safely aligned and controlled by traffic lights. Washington County appointed a Project Advisory Committee—a PAC—in 2001 to consider the input of community members on the details of the realignment.

old thompson map
Map from the 2001 PAC showing the original alignment of Thompson.

At the same time, most of the Lehman farm on the south side of Thompson Road had been sold and residential development was starting. The CPO 1 neighborhood meeting for the development of the Lehman Farm in was held in April 2002 in the Findley school library. Over 100 people showed up. The remaining part of the farm was designed to protect two old farmhouses the Lehmans lived in and to save a small amount of pasture for his pet cows. The property is now owned by THPRD. Public sentiment ran high in favor of Mr. Lehman’s insistence he not be bothered by a road close to his house.

Washington County Land Use & Transportation (LUT) tried to appease Mr. Lehman and his developer, who just wanted to build as many homes as possible. The PAC actively reviewed four alignment options offered by LUT for the intersection and future alignment. The main problems addressed were: the irregular intersection of Thompson-Saltzman; the resulting interim circulation flow; access to the Findley Elementary parking lot; and accommodating Mr. Lehman’s desire to continue living unperturbed in his house. Access to the school was, and remains, a very thorny problem. Findley Elementary finally benefited by the addition of the old roadway to their south parking lot for drive-through queuing or else the traffic gridlock on Thompson would be intolerable at pickup/drop off times.

The plan that was adopted and then abandoned.

The PAC ultimately recommended a complete build-out and connection of Thompson Road, with Larry Lehman (Laurence’s son) objecting. However, in approving the current unconnected road design, the county chose to protect the farm—with BCC approval. This appeased the feisty farmer as a sentimental act. The county’s May 5, 2003 press release was headed “County and Landowner Come to Agreement on Thompson-Saltzman Road.” “Best of all, it allows long time landowners to actively graze their cows and live out their lives in their home without being significantly impacted by the road project.

Marie Conser Real Estate

I spent over 10 hours talking with Mr. Lehman in an attempt to have him relent and let Thompson Road be connected through the new development but to no avail. It is still troubling that the farmer who caused the traffic problem demanded to avoid the consequences of his actions during his last years and did not care whether the community suffered from an inefficient and unsafe interim road configuration, or whether the county had to later pay for connecting Thompson Road.

So here we are. While it saved the county $1.2M in 2003/4 by not connecting the ends of Kenny Terrace, it is costing us +/- $6.5M and a lot of frustration now. We are fortunate to have the MSTIP funds to pay for this major road improvement.

[Ed. Note: Washington County is planning an “Online Open House” on the project, but we don’t yet have a date. See CPO News this month for a recap of the discussion we had at our November meeting.]