BikePortland

Aging bridge could lead to car-free stretch of roadway north of Forest Grove


porter road bridge
(Image: Google Maps.)

Part of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway might become virtually car-free if Washington County moves ahead with a proposal to end auto traffic over a small, failing bridge across Council Creek.

The county’s Department of Land Use and Transportation floated the idea last week in a public memo that described the situation for the bridge that carries Porter Road over the creek just north of Highway 47.

“Due to its deteriorating condition, Bridge 1296 over Council Creek is restricted to vehicles under 13 tons,” the agency wrote. “The county is looking at options including the potential closure of the nearly 65-year-old bridge because the structure is at the end of its useful life, ongoing repairs are not cost-effective, and funding for its replacement is not readily available.”

That “closure” wouldn’t affect people walking or biking, though.

“If the bridge were closed to motor vehicles, then emergency vehicles, local residents and businesses would have access up to the bridge, but not across the bridge,” the memo goes on. “Bicyclists and pedestrians would continue to have access across the bridge.”

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Aside from the odd suggestion that people who might want to walk or bike across the bridge wouldn’t include either local residents or businesses, this could be a nice touch for people riding the meandering Tualatin Valley bikeway.

The bridge in question is at the 15-mile marker in the image below:

The central segment of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway that joins Hillsboro and Vernonia.

And as we reported last week, this stretch of road is also one of the possible routes for an improved “Council Creek Regional Trail” that would create a more direct, transportation-oriented connection between Hillsboro and Banks. Essentially turning this bridge into a traffic diverter for this stretch of road could make path construction unnecessary, at least for a while, between state Route 47 and NW Verboort Road.

Lisa Frank, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Washington County advocate, wrote in an email that the outcome for biking “could be pretty exciting.”

The county is currently asking for feedback on the suggestion. If this partial bridge closure would affect you in any way, call 503-846-ROAD (846-7623) or email lutops@co.washington.or.us.

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