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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 10


October 2005

Cartoon used by permission: Steve Ackerman

Highway 217:short- and long-term improvements
By Megan Bruce, staff writer


Two projects are currently scheduled for OR 217. The preservation project will grind and pave OR 217 between 72nd Avenue and the Sunset Highway (U.S. 26). The rest of the route was already repaved during the building of the I-5 interchange a few years ago. Most of the $10 million project work will take place at night to minimize disruption of traffic.

Federal funding has recently been obtained, so beginning in 2007 the estimated $36.5 million modernization project will add a third northbound lane on OR 217 from TV Highway to Sunset Highway. This project has been in the works since the early 1990s when Washington and Multnomah counties, Beaverton and TriMet joined with ODOT in planning the Westside light-rail corridor and related improvements to highways 26 and 217


Metro’s Highway 217 corridor study, which began in 2003, has been guided by an Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of 20 area residents, business representatives and elected officials appointed by local jurisdictions and the Metro Council as well as three at-large members selected through an extensive public process.

In September Metro narrowed the options for the improvement of Highway 217 down to two based on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. Both options call for widening the highway by one lane in both directions. The price tag for either option is around $500 million.
One proposal calls for a rush-hour toll lane to help pay for the improvements. The other would be a free general-purpose lane. These additions may not begin for 20 years, depending on funding. In fact, the latter project has been given an estimated finish date of as late as 2089 because of the lack of sufficient funding.

Whichever is chosen, there will also be dramatic improvements made to the highway’s interchanges and to bike lanes. The bicycle route that runs along the length of 217 currently has several gaps that should be filled. A bicycle lane adjoining the highway was dismissed because of issues of safety and right of way.

While traffic in this area is not yet as bad as in Southern California, where that state has had success with toll lanes, Highway 217’s traffic has doubled in the past 20 years and is expected to grow by another 30% over the next 20 years.

One question is whether the project will receive funding from voters, funding it will need with or without the toll lane. It doesn’t seem likely that our state, which has managed to avoid a sales tax for so long, would want to vote in a road improvement involving more fees, even though they would be optional to drivers.

The tolls on the lanes would be variable, depending on the traffic in the remaining free lanes. The automated tolling systems would mean no delays to stop at booths and search for change.



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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
P.O. Box 91177
Portland, OR 97291-0177

Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229