I-205 to Airport Way interchange fixes outlined at open house

See why you should take a look at these proposed plans, costing from $18 Million up to $1 Billion, to ease slow-moving traffic around Airport Way and I-205 – and, why you should voice your opinion …

ODOT’s principal planner on the Airport Way Interchange Improvement Project, Andrew Johnson, shows us some of the improvement alternatives, ranging in cost from $18 million up to $1 billion.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In a project they started last spring, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Port of Portland, have been looking at ways to speed up sluggish traffic traveling from eastbound Airport Way to northbound Interstate 205.

The problem is that the interchange handles 200,000 cars per day, and traffic congestion in the area been a problem since 1998. East- and westbound traffic issues on Airport Way have been documented since 2000.

Welcoming us to their fall open house held a couple of weeks ago regarding the Airport Way Interchange Improvement Project at the Multnomah Educational Service District building was ODOT’s principal planner, Andrew Johnson.

“We’ve spent the summer working on this project,” Johnson began. “We started off with a three-day work session at which we created and developed ideas for solving the congestion problem.”

The committee came up with 68 different ideas,” Johnson told us. “We honed those down to 19 alternatives. We combined some of them, and reduced them to the 10 ideas you see here today.”

Project consultant, Brian Baker with HDR, Inc, talks with Ryan Brown, manager of the Airport Super-8 Motel.

Wonders if business will be bulldozed
One of the people attending the open house was Ryan Brown, manager of the Airport Super-8 Motel.

“There are some interesting ideas here,” Brown commented. “Some of the alternatives propose construction that will essentially wipe out our business, and others near it. It may put all of us out of work. Our owners worry about that, too – so I’m definitely giving them my ‘feedback’ about the alternatives.”

Alternatives range widely in cost; benefits not yet known
Their next step, commented Johnson, is to narrow the alternatives down to four or five. The projects alternatives shown ran from a “low” of $18 million up to $1 billion in cost.

“At this point, we’re asking for feedback from neighbors, businesspeople – the community in general,” Johnson explained. “We’ve been hearing people comment on the estimated costs – that’s the kind of comment that we need to hear.”

We asked if, other than the projected cost, any information is available regarding how many traffic snarls would actually be reduced or eliminated.

“That kind of [detailed] analysis is pretty expensive,” Johnson replied. “After we hone it down to five alternatives, in the next few months, we’ll put a lot of time and effort into developing information on the selections. We’ll develop a kind of ‘return on investment’ analysis for each project.”

Johnson added that he expects to see a blending of concepts as the committee moves toward making a final selection.

The charts, plans, and graphs on display for the Airport Way Interchange Improvement Project list the estimated cost for each improvement alternative – but the benefits of each remain unknown.

Comments sought
“The final project will be an important improvement to the Parkrose area; it’s the ‘economic gateway’ to the region,” Johnson added.

How might this affect your business or neighborhood? Now is the time to make your voice heard (or read), by checking in with the project and commenting.

To visit the official ODOT/PDX Airport Way Interchange Improvement Project website, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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