Freeway congestion near Portland International Airport studied

See what transportation planners say they can do to ease slow-moving traffic around Airport Way and I-205 – and when they plan to take action …

Matt Freitag, ODOT consultant, and Port of Portland project manager Robin McCaffrey ask people to tell them how they’re affected by congested traffic around PDX.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Matt Freitag, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) consultant and project manager, didn’t mince words when he began our conversation: “There is congestion at the Airport Way/I-205 interchange. We’re looking for ways to alleviate it on both the Airport Way East and Airport Way West.”

Primarily, he added, ODOT, with the help of the Port of Portland, is looking for a way to speed up sluggish traffic traveling from eastbound Airport Way to northbound Interstate 205.

Handles 200,000 cars per day
Congestion at this interchange has been a problem since 1998, we learned; and east- and westbound traffic issues on Airport Way have been documented since 2000. The documentation shows that the Airport Way interchange is used by nearly 200,000 vehicles daily.

At an open house a couple of weeks ago, Freitag added, “We were trying to get some information out on what citizens see as a congestion issues, and get suggestions regarding what they perceive are the issues we should be looking at.”

Robin McCaffrey, Port of Portland, also working on the project, commented, “The I-205 north interchange design cannot handle today’s peak-hour traffic, much less tomorrow’s [increased] traffic.”

Smooth sailing a long time off
McCaffrey explained that they are in the early stages of the project. “We’re developing information, and getting all of our alternatives lined up.”

The timetable for improvements won’t be complete until 2014, noted Freitag. “In 2009 we’re hoping to move into a more in-depth analysis of specific solutions and alternatives. We want to be moving into design by 2010. We need to find a solution that works here, we don’t want to rush into it.”

Ross Monn talks with Scott King, a Port of Portland airport planner.

Wilkes Community Group Chair Ross Monn stopped by the open house. He commented, “You don’t go into this area after four o’clock. The traffic is clogged. . .  I look forward to something being done to help improve the situation here.”

Deposit your two-cents
“We’re in the early stage of this,” McCaffrey noted. “There will be many opportunities for people to give input; we encourage people to participate.”

To take a look for yourself, and register your comments, at the ODOT web site. We’ll take you there if you CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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