Tour de Lab September 1st

County says NW Newberry road will be fixed by summer/fall 2018

Posted by on August 25th, 2017 at 8:43 am

Landslide and damage to NW Newberry.
(Photo: Multnomah Countyu)

Multnomah County issued advisories for two roads in the west hills that are popular with local riders.

They’ve released a date for when NW Newberry will be fixed and re-opened. And they’ve announced a new, upcoming closure of the west side of NW Germantown.

Winter storms pummeled NW Newberry Road into submission, causing a major landslide about a half-mile up from Highway 30. The landslide caused the pavement of the northern (uphill) lane to completely split apart and fall down a hill. As a result, Multnomah County closed the road on January 18th. Concrete jersey barriers were placed across the road in both directions. While the road is technically closed, bicycle riders have continued to use it by going around the barriers to enjoy a quiet and safe, carfree road.

At a recent public meeting, County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson said a federal grant has helped with the repair project. Yesterday, the County issued a statement saying they’ve begun working on a retaining wall needed to support the new road. Construction is set to begin in late spring 2018 and the road should reopen to all users by late summer/early fall of the same year.

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The west side of NW Germantown Road about 3/4 of a mile up from where it splits with Old Germantown also has a landslide. The County says it’s a “slow-moving” slide but they plan to do some repairs late next month. Thankfully this section of Germantown isn’t a main bicycling route because most people opt for nearby Old Germantown Road due to its lower traffic volume. However, the County plans to close Germantown from Kaiser to Skyline for up to one week while they make repairs. This means you might not be able to access Old Germantown during construction. The County says residents will retain access; but it’s not clear whether or not crews will let bicycle users through to reach Old Germantown. UPDATE: County spokesman Mike Pullen says that although it won’t be an official detour for motor vehicle users due to its narrow and winding profile, Old Germantown Road will remain accessible to bicycle users throughout the project.

To stay updated on rural road conditions, follow @MultCoRoads on Twitter.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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14 Comments
  • Avatar
    Kyle Banerjee August 25, 2017 at 10:07 am

    This is a very quiet and enjoyable section that is among my favorite in the west hills.

    But I’m not sure I would describe it either as particularly safe or even car free even if traffic is a fraction of what it normally is — something everyone climbing it undoubtedly appreciates.

    The descent is fast and tight, wildlife encounters are common, and anyone carrying too much speed before the last curve where the barrier suddenly becomes visible could get into trouble. In addition, this is a fairly steep grind where tacking isn’t a great idea due to blind curves and other descending bikes.

    I love it the way it is now and will be sorry to see full traffic restored. But even with very low traffic, I wouldn’t send anyone out there who wouldn’t want to ride the west hills anyway. Among other things, it’s a very short section and there is no way to get to it without dealing with 30 and/or Skyline.

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    bikeninja August 25, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Much of the west hills consists of unstable soils. There instability is only accelerated by the increases in impermeable surfaces such as roads, parking lots and driveways. As the original deep rooted trees are lost due to wind, disease and climate change this instability will only accelerate. We should probably triage the houses and roads in the best situations , and not throw good money after bad.

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      Kyle Banerjee August 25, 2017 at 10:30 am

      In all honesty, I couldn’t believe where they built houses and roads when I first moved here. If you build a house and roads on super steep inclines made of mud, you don’t need to be an engineer to figure out what will happen when it rains.

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      • Adam
        Adam August 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

        Rich people can afford to just buy a new house when their current one slides down the hill in an earthquake or heavy rain. That’s my theory, anyway.

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          bikeninja August 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

          Most people in these situations believe that it is governments ( or other taxpayers) jobs to bail them out when such things happen. My wife used to be an engineer in the public works planning sector of one of the larger towns in the Willamette Valley. Commonly a developer would want to build a fancy subdivision on unstable soils or within the 100 year floodplain. The city engineers would object and reject the application, then the developer would pressure city council to force the project to go through ( private property rights, jobs etc.) Then inevitably the homes would flood, or slide down the hill and the rich homeowners would show up back city hall to demand that the rest of the taxpayers fund repairs to their property.

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            Mr. Know It All August 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm

            If I were rich, I’d buy on a hill with a view, not in a flood plain…………see Skyline Drive, upper Thurman, upper Lovejoy, etc.

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      rick August 25, 2017 at 10:34 am

      One nearby property just uphill from the mudslide has few trees and shrubs. The price to pay for “the view.”

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    rick August 25, 2017 at 10:33 am

    The concrete jersey barriers currently there block motorcycles and cars, but it is passable to walk or or walk with your bike past them. I’m surprised the asphalt from the mudslide on that very steep road hasn’t been cleared away. One nearby property has just a handful of trees and shrubs to hold the soil. Someone keeps dumping the grass clippings onto the road.

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    Kevin Geraghty August 25, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Indeed it is a pity that the washout will be fixed to motor vehicle requirements. As a quiet cycling and walking route it is a pleasure. All houses off that road are still road-accessible. Many of them probably appreciate the lack of traffic. Who is clamoring for this road? Clark-county-Beaverton commuters trying to avoid the Germantown mess, in turn created by trying to avoid the HWY 26 and I-5 mess? Too bad the feds have a slush fund that makes it easy to repair roads that would probably not fixed if local govt’s had to make the cost-benefit tradeoffs with their own resources.

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      Middle of the Road Guy August 25, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      well maybe it will also get a wider shoulder

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      Stephen Keller August 25, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      I still want to see Germantown closed to through traffic between Skyline and the St. Johns bridge. Basically, we allow Forest Park access (to Leif Erikson) from bottom and top, install barriers that allow through cycling and walking only, and watch the north-end St. Johns bridge mess self-correct because there is no longer any significant traffic merging from Germantown onto bridge road.

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        Mr. Know It All August 29, 2017 at 5:32 pm

        Those using Germantown will get to the SJ bridge one way or another so they’ll just be clogging another route instead. I like Germantown – nice drive through the country; and fun curves to drive. 🙂 Would not be fun going uphill on a bike when there is traffic though – too narrow.

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  • Adam
    Adam August 25, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I wish our city cared as much about maintenance for bike routes as they do car routes. Many of our bike lanes are also prone to flooding and poor maintenance, but because it’s bikes, we get the proverbial shrug. NW/SW 2nd floods all winter, Better Naito is still missing tons of posts around Salmon Spring, and don’t even get me started on the months that PBOT left gravel all over our bike lanes.

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    Kyle Banerjee August 25, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    In all fairness, many of these areas probably wouldn’t even be that walking accessible without pretty aggressive maintenance. Many of the hills are steep and wash out regularly.

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