Special gravel coverage

The BTA’s biggest new idea: a Tualatin Valley Highway bikeway across Washington County

Posted by on September 3rd, 2014 at 9:03 am

Forest Grove, Cornelius, Hillsboro and Beaverton have a common link: a highway that’s mostly terrible to use.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Final post in a series about the BTA’s five new advocacy campaigns.

If Washington County has an aorta, it’s the Tualatin Valley Highway. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has launched a long-term campaign to make a separated bikeway part of the plan for keeping it flowing smoothly.

The highway connects 16 miles of increasingly dense suburban development between Beaverton’s historic downtown and Forest Grove.

“More than 120,000 people right now are traveling this route east and west through the county, and right now it’s a mess for everyone,” BTA Washington County Advocate Lisa Frank said in an interview. “Everyone’s realized that it’s not working well for people driving on it, and it’s certainly not working for people trying to ride the 57 or walk and bike along it.”

The street is controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation — it’s also known for most of this length as state Route 8. Frank is organizing bike transportation advocates to weigh in on the TV Highway Corridor Plan, a state-county-city project to address what they call “inadequate facilities and congestion” along the route.

Biking TV Highway today: ‘It’s hell’

BTA statistics about the TV Highway’s current problems.

Frank sees the ideal bikeway here as a combination of on-street protected bike lanes and off-street paths, including stretches near the railroad tracks that run just south of the highway from Beaverton to Hillsboro.

“There’s city on both sides of the highway,” Frank said. “Going through Aloha or Reedville, there could easily be a couple miles of protected bikeway that link to a couple miles of trail that link to a couple miles of protected bikeway.”

Jim Parsons, a longtime Washington County biking advocate, said in an interview that he certainly supports the idea of an off-road trail where possible.

“That’s an awful long stretch, and I have to say I have bicycled a good portion of it,” Parsons said. “And it’s hell.”

Frank has studiously avoided putting either a pricetag or a timeline on what is, of the BTA’s current advocacy campaigns, by far the most dramatic, expensive and long-term.

If it comes together, she said, it’ll by piece by piece over the course of many years, and it’ll be because bike advocates stepped up early and throughout the process to connect smaller segments into a longer route — coordinating projects like the proposed Council Creek Regional Trail between Hillsboro and Banks.

“There is definitely still some truth to the idea that the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Frank said. “So we want to be a little bit squeaky.”

Quick take: BikePortland’s summary of the project

BTA Washington County Advocate Lisa Frank.

Where the idea came from: ODOT, Washington County and the City of Hillsboro are lead partners in the TV Highway Corridor Plan. The BTA created Frank’s position late last year in part to use that process as a chance to start building this massive bikeway project into the vision.

What it might cost: Somewhere in the tens of millions including land purchases, path construction and related signals and crossings. That scale of project would be extremely unusual in Multnomah or Clackamas County. But because Washington County passed a transportation property tax measure before a tax-limiting ballot measure took effect in the 1990s, voters there have consistently won major state grants by putting up their own money to match it.

“They don’t flinch when it’s $7 or $8 million,” BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky said.

Likely tradeoffs: Every foot of width adds to the price, and every foot of bikeway is a foot that can’t be dedicated to auto capacity or a freight turning radius. Frank said that though seven lanes of traffic have been discussed as an option for TV Highway, that much widening has met resistence. “The community and the planners working on that were very clear that they felt that 5 lanes were appropriate,” she said.

How you could help: Contact Frank to sign her petition: lisa@btaoregon.org or 503-226-0676 x18. Or volunteer to help organize supporters using the BTA’s online tool.

“We’re looking for people that want to sign and say that they support it, but also folks who are willing to go out to Beaverton Transit Center and talk to people about this work,” Frank said. “People who are wiling to go out to farmers markets, street fairs.”

This is the end of our five-post series about BTA advocacy campaigns, but it’s only the beginning of our coverage. Stay tuned as we follow these projects and let you know how people are getting involved.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jason H September 3, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I live in a neighborhood adjacent to TV Highway and the proposed bikeway. While I 100% agree with the “it’s hell” sentiment, I’m torn if this is the right time to start such an expensive, piecemeal project.

    The Portland & Western Railroad line on the south side of TV highway I believe only serves one use, to take logs and lumber products to and from the Stimson Lumber mill near Hagg Lake (at least based on what I seen in carrying in living almost 10 years right by the line). There are only a few trains a day and they’re often only 4-5 railcars in length. If the line is likely to go inactive in the forceable future a full rail-to-trail conversion would seem to make much more sense and be a better use of resources. I’d really like improvements NOW, but it would be a shame if there is a 20 year plan to link up disparate buffered lanes/railroad sidepath/dedicated trail segments and have the railroad go bust in 5-10 years mid-project leaving what would would have been a much simpler route un-utilized.

    A R2T conversion would also have the benefits of connecting in downtown Hillsboro to the proposed Council Creek Trail, and if they extend it out along Highway 47, it could connect to the also proposed Yamhelas Westsider Trail. The future extension of the Rock Creek Trail south to Rood Bridge Park would also intersect the line.

    No matter what, I’m excited to see planning for major improvements for infrastructure on the westside, I just hope we make the most of the budget and get the best bikeway we can.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Joseph E September 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Even in narrow areas, there is plenty of room for a rail-with-trail in the right-of-way. It looks like even 2 tracks and a trail would fit just fine. Sure, it would be a little cheaper to convert the railroad grade to a trail, versus grading a new parallel trail, but there I think there is benefit in having freight rail service and potential future passenger trains on this route.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jason H September 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

        I agree for the most part, it is a wide RoW, but there are still pinch points like the trestles at Johnson and Rock creeks that would require new bridges (but will probably just merged to on street lanes) and intersections where routing the trail past the RR crossing gates and hardware seems more difficult. If the trail could use the existing trestles and crossings (signalized just for trail traffic), it seems a much more elegant solution.

        As I mentioned the freight usage is very low, it’s not really decreasing truck traffic on the roads by any significant amount. Whether it remains financially advantageous for P&W to run it lies solely on the fortunes of a single mill operating. And passenger service is never going to happen on this line west of Beaverton, as it hasn’t since the Red Electric ceased operations in 1929. The MAX blue line runs parallel (on the more successful Oregon Electric line) just a mile or less north, and just as a century ago there just isn’t a use case for two E-W passenger rail lines in such close proximity. Heck, the WES isn’t exactly doing great running the section of the line without a nearby rail option.

        My whole argument is just my daydreaming for the last decade how nice a R2T conversion would be here as I cross the line multiple times daily. I’m pretty sure BTA has done their homework and knows why a straight R2T conversion isn’t viable and I’ll celebrate the proposed bikeway along with everyone else.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Chris I September 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

          That corridor is valuable to hang onto as potential future high capacity transit. It would be really easy to convert it for light rail, and tie it into the existing light rail line in Beaverton. There is a lot of adjacent space available for a trail. Keep the rail line for now, and keep all of those logs off of the road. Build a trail next to it, similar to the Springwater between Downtown and Sellwood.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Rick September 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

            That rail line on TV Highway is for freight transportation.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Chris I September 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

              So were all of the other ones that were converted for passenger use.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

          • wsbob September 4, 2014 at 10:45 am

            The Portland & Western Railroad line is definitely important to retain. Although I’m not enthusiastic about it happening, population in the area is likely to grow, and that rail line could come to be increasingly important towards meeting the needs of more people living here.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Rick September 4, 2014 at 10:09 am

      That freight line needs to stay, imo. It is important for biz. I do love rails-to-trais projects, though.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • IanC September 3, 2014 at 10:10 am

    A thousand times, “Yes!”

    This is the typeof infrastructure initiative we need out here in Washington County. I applaud BTA’s vision (an Wa County, Hillsboro) and look forward to helping.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy K September 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for covering this….really bad idea, though. The worst. Let’s focus on cost and benefits.

    If you have that much money to spend, please improve the east-west bike routes we already have (Cornell, Baseline, Farmington and Evergreen) by taking them to the next level of safety: protected bike lanes. They matter more at 45mph than they do at 25mph.

    Everyone on the west side already knows that TV Highway is beyond hope and is only ridden by the brave or those without any other choice (these are the people riding on the sidewalk sans helmet). If you must spend money on an ODOT facility, use it on OR10 (Farmington), which has great potential, or build pedestrian crossing structures over TV HWY.

    Bottom line: Lane protection would have a positive affect on all cyclists because it gets the interested but concerned cyclists out there and provides more safety for the ones who are already using it.

    I would love to see other commenters chime in on this, and thanks again for covering this.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Rick September 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Farmington and the BH Highway greatly needs it. It goes from 35 to mph when traveling east right at SW 65th Ave.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob September 5, 2014 at 12:53 am

      “…please improve the east-west bike routes we already have (Cornell, Baseline, Farmington and Evergreen) by taking them to the next level of safety: protected bike lanes. …” Andy K

      Cornell, Baseline, and Evergreen pass directly through where some of the county’s hi-tek centers are located. Much of those roads’ existing bike lanes are relatively new, and maybe should have been, protected bike lanes. I think the area would really benefit from a basic cycle track system as well.

      Farmington Rd, three or four miles south, does have a sort of protected bike lane. Curb separated, not so great for transportation biking. I don’t think it has near the potential for improvement as an east west bike route, 170th west to Hillsboro, that the streets on the north side of TV Hwy do.

      South of the highway, 170th east into Beaverton: haven’t ridden the route in quite a while, but the map shows Division and 6th into Beaverton. Probably would serve as a bike route quite well.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Andy K September 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

        These are the reasons I think OR10 (Farmington) has so much impact potential:

        1. There are at least 4 public schools in the corridor (Hazeldale ES, Aloha HS, Mountain View MS, and Aloha Huber Park K-8).
        2. Improvements to a roadway cyclists already use (unlike TV HWY)
        3. Farmington is a direct link to Burkhalter Rd, which is the start of the wonderful Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.


        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • wsbob September 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

          For bikeway functionality, proximity to things such as schools, and shops and jobs is good. South of TV Highway as well as north of the highway, would benefit from having a reliable, safe, low stress route for biking that I think I understand bikeways are designed to provide.

          If it’s a bikeway you’re thinking of, how do you visualize it? A reconfiguration of Farmington’s old, existing curb separated bike lanes? A separate bikeway or cycle track set some distance from Farmington’s main lanes? Increases in existing road right of way needed to create new space as needed, apparently are a obstacle in many projects. Arrangements have to be made with adjoining property owners.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Andy K September 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

            The current Farmington Road protected bikeway*:

            1. is not long enough to make an impact…ie., no connectivity.
            2. has way too many gaps to provide adequate proteciton
            3. * is not actually a protected bikeway – it’s a sidewalk substitute, mostly used by pedestrians. See link below for typical users and obstacles (redirects to Google Maps Street View Image)


            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Andy K September 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm

            My first instinct is to shift the roadway and/or striping north and build a 4 inch raised, 2-way cycle track, on the south side only, adjacent to a 4 inch raised sidewalk for at least two miles, in the vicinity of the schools. (The sidewalk will be a total of 8 inches above the roadway)

            Another idea I had was to modify the cross slope of the roadway so that it sheds to the north. This way you won’t have inlets adjacent to the cycle track (and in the wheel path of automobiles).

            A cheaper solution should be used from 209th westerly to SW Rood Bridge Rd (start of the Scenic Bikeway)….buffered bike lanes?

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • philtor September 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm

          But once you get west of about 185th there’s not much that Farmington goes to. It starts to veer more to the south and into a very rural area (especially after 209th).

          This is why the TV Hiway proposal is so intriguing – it goes right through the middle of Hillsboro and out to Cornelius and then finally to Forest Grove.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • wsbob September 6, 2014 at 9:58 pm

            For different reasons than transportation biking infrastructure, of course, but road conditions for biking on Farmington west of 185th and 209th, are worthy improving as well. Differently and more simply though, than likely is needed east of these cross roads.

            Farmington goes out into the countryside, which is great, beautifully scenic riding very accessible by bike from the city. For riding more safely and comfortably, a relatively easy improvement would be a sizable increase in road shoulder width. Even lacking having to deal with the level of development clutter adjacent to the road further east, it would still be a big job to do.

            While as recent collisions reported in the news make clear, wide road shoulders are no guarantee that some people driving motor vehicle won’t still have their vehicles leaving the road with catastrophic results, a broad, 8′ wide shoulder could really ease some of the stress and danger of riding alongside swift moving motor vehicle traffic.

            True though, I think, development of a good, solid through connecting east west route from Beaverton to Forest Grove relatively close to and paralleling TV Hwy seems worthy of being a greater priority than Farmington. I hope more people focus on realizing this possibility, and the BTA could help with this.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Andy K September 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm

              A safe, parallel route immediately adjacent to Highway 8 out to Forest Grove will not be funded by ODOT, even if it’s a great idea.

              The reason I’m all in on Farmington is because of it’s affect on schools and recreational cyclists. No one is arguing that Farmington “goes anywhere.” The journey is the destination past 209th.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rick September 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Nice, but a makeover of Farmington Road / Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway is more greatly needed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Isaac September 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Rick I couldn’t agree more… get the lanes on Farmington/Beaverton Hillsdale. We currently have bad, worse or horrible as options for bike commuting between Beaverton and Portland…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Dan September 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

        That’s why a number of folks drive to the start of the Hwy 26 MUP, I’d imagine.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Andy K September 7, 2014 at 8:46 pm

        Isaac, gotta disagree 100% on this one. I’d like your feedback on these two routes, used by most commuters from Beaverton to Portland. http://tinyurl.com/BeavPDX1 and http://tinyurl.com/BeavPDX2

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe September 4, 2014 at 10:53 am

    That road is sketch most days, hope they calm it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob September 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I’m very much in favor of a bikeway type infrastructure developed for the TV Highway corridor, but not on the highway itself.

    Rather, for starts, between 170th and Hillsboro, to the north of the highway using Johnson, Alexander, and other residential streets in neighborhoods roughly paralleling the highway. These street have for years already, somewhat served as a fairly low traffic, safe and enjoyable route for biking much of the way between Aloha and Hillsboro, but because of the contrary nature of contained suburb developments along the route, they lack connectivity with each other.

    Still talking about a lot of money to establish a connected route, and construct it by widening road shoulders along the route to provide for improved biking and walking. I think though, such a route would be vastly superior to riding directly alongside TV Highway’s 120,000 cars in use per day cited in this bikeportland story.

    A campaign for a TV Hwy corridor route for biking is I think, a great one for the BTA to be taking on. I think so in part, because I’ve been a resident of the west side for decades, and have ridden and driven these roads many, many times.

    More importantly, it’s a great campaign choice because such a route is so desperately needed, and because it may very well be that developing and building it would draw strong grass roots support. If, that is, it’s conceived and carried out well. If the idea were to devolve into a big money pit with no good performance routine, that would spoil support.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • constance kosuda September 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    this is such an insult and waste of funds it’s pathetic / how did these folks jump to the front of the line –

    no consideration given to the rights and needs of seniors / the disabled / families with babies and young children in tow / folks who don’t want to ride bikes for MANY reasons/



    more elitism and myopia = we don’t need.

    also touted as a “solution” for “poor people” —- WHAT?????

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob September 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm


      Any place in the county, or along the highway in particular? I’ve lived in the county for a long time, and know that a reliable route for biking near TV Hwy but relatively free of the unhealthy and dangerous motor vehicle related use of that road to vulnerable road users, would likely be a great benefit to many people of a wide range of class levels.

      This route for biking wouldn’t be simply a recreational thing, but importantly, a more viable route for transportation by bike than is riding along the highway’s main lanes of travel. From that standpoint, I would think a developed route definitely could benefit people with less means to buy and maintain a motor vehicle, and that are willing to bike to get around.

      I think there are needs for additions to infrastructure that improves road usability for people you mention in your second paragraph, though such additions have been an ongoing effort for awhile already. On the other hand, a well established bikeway conceived and designed to use with bikes for transportation purposes would be a first for the county. That’s long enough time waiting for something that’s much needed.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • philtor September 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      First off, the extra Buses and Train service would be coming out of a completely different pool of funds as I understand it. Yes, more safe crosswalks would be great, but there’s no reason that couldn’t be part of this proposal.

      As for helping poor people, the lower income folks I know have told me they can’t afford TriMet anymore – it’s $5/day now to take TriMet to work & back (one even told me a few years ago “TriMet?! That’s for rich people”). And if it’s a family trying to go somewhere that can be a very large amount of money. Biking is pretty much free after you find a decent used bike and the health benefits can’t be ignored.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • EngineerScotty September 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    A good E/W bikeway in the neighborhood would be an excellent idea–but I’d also like to see high quality BRT in the TV Highway corridor.

    Also, the stretch of Farmington from 170th heading west is not a pleasant place to be either a pedestrian or on a bike. Traffic moves fast, lighting is poor, the lanes are narrow, and that flimsy couple inches of concrete isn’t very good protection.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Terry September 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Baseline, with appropriate north-south connector ribs (Intel, Orenco), would provide a better spine from Beaverton into downtown Hillsboro (Main). Once in Hillsboro, it can reconnect with Hwy 8 to Forest Grove. Going east (Jenkins at Murray), it would need a connector to Park Way/Wilshire to route you to the Sunset Hwy bike path over Sylvan, taking you into Washington Park.

    Plus, it will be easier construction to modify Baseline. Drive it and see for yourself.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rick January 5, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    This deadly highway had 4 deaths in 2015. It needs a trail alongside the highway, mixed-used development, a road diet and more trails in the West Slope neighborhood near, and a grocery store by SW 87th Ave.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy K August 11, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t know how I didn’t notice this before…. TV Highway is shown as a bicycle friendly road for 0.7 miles from Hocken to Lombard.
    I recommend that you never ride this.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • constance kosuda August 11, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      thank God, Andy – a cyclist with brains! this narrow, clogged road is deadly for cars and pedestrians / for bikes too!

      bikes don’t belong on a road like this.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • rick October 3, 2018 at 7:26 am

        Crashes should not be allowed on TV Highway. or anywhere.

        Recommended Thumb up 0