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County says NW Newberry Rd could be fixed — and reopened to drivers — by summer

Posted by on January 19th, 2018 at 12:38 pm

It looks bad, but it’s good on a bike.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I have some bad news. Unless, that is, you drive a car on NW Newberry Road.

Slide is marked with a star. Newberry is about a half-mile south of Sauvie Island exit off Highway 30.

One of our area’s most popular climbs has been carfree since a major landslide destroyed a section of it one year ago. Newberry Road snakes up from Highway 30 about 10 miles north of downtown Portland. It’s part of many nice routes from Skyline Road and other destinations well beyond. It’s so well loved that River City Bicycles even made a short video about it recently (which has a great shot of the damaged section of road):

During major storms last year, half the pavement fell into the hillside. The damage is about a half-mile up from Highway 30 and Multnomah County was forced to close the road to auto users. People can still drive their homes from the top or the bottom, but no through driving is allowed. The result has been a blissfully quiet road you can climb without the stress of passing drivers or the toxic fumes that come out of their tailpipes. Being carfree has made a good climb, great.

Unfortunately Newberry’s carfree days are numbered. If things go according to the County’s plan they’ll have it rebuilt by this summer next winter.

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According to Chris Fick, chief of staff for Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, they’ve nailed down the $1.8 million needed for the rebuild (with funds from the Federal Highway Administration).

Fick says there are two property owners the County is currently negotation right-of-way issues with, but the design work is 90 percent complete. Once construction begins (either this summer or fall) it should take about four months to finish. At the latest, it will be re-opened to drivers by this coming fall winter 2019.

So get out there and enjoy those peaceful pedal strokes while you can.

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

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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

  • rick January 19, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Acres of the adjacent residential property is just grass opposite of that landslide. Not much is holding the earth.

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  • Alex January 19, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    That’s a bummer – have been riding that a lot lately and it is so nice to not have the normal traffic on it. I wonder if the locals care.

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  • Chris January 19, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Dang. Hopefully the signs announcing its reopening are subtle/nonexistent.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 19, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    quick note: I was a bit off with the scheduling. Construction could begin this summer or fall, and that means it would be open by this by winter 2019 at the latest.

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  • A.Criss January 19, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Yeah we sure like it the way it is also.

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  • bikeninja January 19, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    That photo makes me feel as if I am getting a glimpse of the future of automobile infrastructure.

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  • Allan Rudwick January 19, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    I feel like strongtowns would tell us to investigate whether we want to maintain this road long-term. there are other options like not rebuilding that would be a lot cheaper. However it does shave a few minutes off my commute when US-26 is backed up so maybe I should be in favor of this? But not in the current financial climate of road maintenance

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    • rick January 19, 2018 at 10:28 pm

      Cornelius Pass

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    • Eric Leifsdad January 22, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      What do you mean drivers’ user fees don’t pay for roads?

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  • Stephen Keller January 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I wish we could keep one paved road from 30 to Skyline car free. Sadly, I guess not.

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    • rick January 19, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      Multnomah County is transferring Cornelius Pass to ODOT. They are tired of dealing with the cost of crashes and the mess.

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    • Dan A January 20, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Logie Trail seems like a good candidate. Semi truck got stuck in the turns up there a few years ago.

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    • Swan Island Runner January 22, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Not paved, but I would rate Saltzman as car free and able to accommodate any bike tire.

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  • bikeninja January 20, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I sure hope that a rascally band of vandals does not take this an inspiration and “deconstruct” strategic bits of Portland streets to create defacto safe bikeways.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy January 20, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Let’s hope not…because other bands of rascals may take it upon themselves to remove bike infrastructure.

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  • Peter W January 21, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Dang… if only ODOT could fix the Barbur viaducts just as quickly.

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  • GlowBoy January 22, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Any chance a narrow slice of the road could remain open to bikes during construction?

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