Construction begins next month on NW Newberry Rd

Beautiful, isn’t it?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Next month will be two years since a landslide wiped away a big chunk of NW Newberry Road. Multnomah County closed the winding, mountain road to through traffic in January 2017 and it has since become even more popular than usual for cycling. Newberry is one of a handful of climbs that take riders from Highway 30 up and over the west hills. It’s a welcome respite from the loud and fast traffic on “Dirty 30.”

With the closure, Newberry has become a de facto carfree climb. That is, for those people who’ve ignored the closure signs and were willing to ride around the jersey barriers.

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Now things are about to change. The County announced this week that construction is set to begin soon and the road will be fixed and reopened by spring 2019.

According to the County, construction crews will start staging on the site in mid-January and will work Monday through Thursday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Construction should be done by the end of March and final paving is planned for May.

During the construction period, it would not be wise to attempt to ride Newberry. While many people have been riding through the closure up until now, with big trucks and workers on the site, we should now treat this like a hard closure. If you want to get up or down from the West Hills, I’d recommend NW McNamee Rd to the north and Germantown (which I never ride, and if I did it would only be on the weekends when there’s low traffic), Springville (very steep and unpaved!), or Saltzman (unpaved) to the north.

For more details, check the check the project website.

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

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Bennett Shane
3 years ago

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Paul B
Paul B
3 years ago

On one hand, “Finally!”
On the other, “Darn…”

dan
dan
3 years ago

I’m sure the road being out was a major inconvenience for the people who live on Newberry, but how many people is that and how much is the repair going to cost? Grouse, grouse…

Anyway, it has been a pleasure to ride car-free Newberry and I suppose all good things must come to an end. We’ll always have Saltzman.

Allan Rudwick
3 years ago
Reply to  dan

This road has 10-20 homes on it. it is, however a pretty useful cut-through for commuters trying to avoid the 26

jered
jered
3 years ago
Reply to  dan

Pretty sure the folks living on Newberry were quite content to have the road closed.

rick
rick
3 years ago

If only NW McNamee Road had the road slide. It had far less car traffic and wasn’t as steep of a downhill ride. Will the county require the nearby and uphill property owners to help prevent another landside? More shrubs?

Mick O
Mick O
3 years ago

You mean the county wouldn’t be swayed by a few noisy complaints about how this repair is being “rammed down our throats” and claims that “they did not engage with the community” and “this is the first we’ve heard of it” ?? I would figure having someone write a couple emails with those phrases should absolutely guarantee it would be delayed at least a year….. no? Ok.

I wonder how they manage do do it.

rick
rick
3 years ago
Reply to  Mick O

Well, in a related way, many people in unincorporated Multnomah County had not heard of the every-three-years Multnomah County Roads Capital Improvement Plan until I told them about it this year. This road slide is different, though.

BradWagon
3 years ago
Reply to  Mick O

… what?

Fred
Fred
3 years ago

I’ve enjoyed many wonderful rides up this road since you pointed out the closure on this site.

On one ride, I stopped and chatted with a woman walking her dog. I asked whether the closure has been a burden. “No,” she replied, “it has actually been a blessing. My drive to town is only a little further than it was, and I love the quiet since no one drives this way anymore.”

Hmm – does quality of life for residents and other road users sometimes outweigh the convenience of drivers?

oliver
oliver
3 years ago
Reply to  Fred

I have a feeling that if you could just get people to forget about the benefit to cyclists you’d double or triple the buy in from local residents on traffic calming schemes anywhere they’re proposed.

Bennett Shane
Bennett Shane
3 years ago

Mick O
You mean the county wouldn’t be swayed by a few noisy complaints about how this repair is being “rammed down our throats” and claims that “they did not engage with the community” and “this is the first we’ve heard of it” ?? I would figure having someone write a couple emails with those phrases should absolutely guarantee it would be delayed at least a year….. no? Ok.I wonder how they manage do do it.Recommended 1

hmm, There is about 300 ft of climbing on McNamee “descent”. My legs are usually torched by the time I see the gnomes on the left. I also very very seldom see cars on that road and I ride it regularly

Matt S.
Matt S.
3 years ago

I ride up Thurman to Lief to Saltzman. I climb up to Skyline, ride back down to 30 and over St Johns. Back via Willamette. Plenty of climbing, pretty safe.

Stephen Keller
Stephen Keller
3 years ago

Shucks! I was kind of hoping they’d close the road to motorized traffic. It would be nice to have one decently paved and car-free route up to Skyline.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Keller

Why pave it if there are no cars?

Stephen Keller
Stephen Keller
3 years ago

Because I enjoy cycling with my wife who rejects the notion that gravel is an acceptable substitute for macadam.

Ken S
Ken S
3 years ago

…Because without cars, the pavement will actually last?
Because with paved, car-free roads, more people will be likely to ride, making the whole endeavor pay off?

The Romans figured out paving roads 2000 years ago, and it wasn’t for cars.
The Dutch and Danes have car-free, paved roads, and it’s working out pretty well for them.

Middle of The Road Guy
Middle of The Road Guy
3 years ago
Reply to  Ken S

Seems like a heck of an investment for just a bike road up to Skyline when there are other ways up.

Dan A
Dan A
3 years ago

“just a bike road”

Why are you here?

Middle of The Road Guy
Middle of The Road Guy
3 years ago
Reply to  Ken S

Not sure you can blame a landslide on cars.

Dan A
Dan A
3 years ago

There are already unpaved car-free routes up to Skyline.

Middle of The Road Guy
Middle of The Road Guy
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

Really – I had no idea.

Ken S
Ken S
3 years ago

So, I guess I’ll just state this bluntly, lacking all nuance or inference:

“Why pave it if there are no cars?”
Because there are no paved, car-free routes up the east slope of the west hills, from hwy 30 to Skyline, so having Newberry remain car-free or only allowing cars to descend would be a boon to pedestrians and cyclists.
Cars get every other paved road up and down the hill, bikes get one.

“Not sure you can blame a landslide on cars?”
“Seems like a heck of an investment for just a bike road up to Skyline when there are other ways up.”
Who the hell said I was blaming the landslide on cars? How about the general deterioration of roads from the weight of cars? If there are any civil engineers who could chime in on the estimated lifespan of a road for ped/bike traffic vs. car traffic, I’d be willing to bet it’s many decades longer. This would be in the interest of the county’s bottom line. If you could build a road that costs less to maintain, why wouldn’t you?

Also, for the scores of people riding to and from Sauvie Island, Newberry would represent a safer and more direct route over the west hills.
Yes, Leif Erickson, Saltzman, and Springville are options, but they can get pretty sloppy when it rains.

Why, if there aren’t cars, wouldn’t you want a paved route up a steep hill?

Lisa
Lisa
3 years ago

🙁

Ken S
Ken S
3 years ago

Objectively, the road needed to be fixed, but based on the comment from the dog walking resident that it’s been better since the road was closed, maybe there’s a compromise:
Only allow cars to travel down the hill, from skyline to 30.
Keep the uphill lane exclusively for foot and bike traffic.
There’s even a precident for this, with very steep roads like SE College or Brynwood being downhill only!

mark smith
mark smith
3 years ago

Yeah, it needs to be stabilized. The county had a major opportunity here to make a road for people only. But…that requires real leadership and advocacy. Instead…status quo. Build a road for cars…cars ruin it…rinse and repeat. Money for road builders and therefore money for elections!

mark smith
mark smith
3 years ago

Ken S
Objectively, the road needed to be fixed, but based on the comment from the dog walking resident that it’s been better since the road was closed, maybe there’s a compromise: Only allow cars to travel down the hill, from skyline to 30. Keep the uphill lane exclusively for foot and bike traffic. There’s even a precident for this, with very steep roads like SE College or Brynwood being downhill only!Recommended 3

Why do we need to compromise with death?

Ken S
Ken S
3 years ago
Reply to  mark smith

We need to “compromise with death” because bureaucracy is slow and apathetic and we, as a group of bike/transportation advocates, do not have absolute power, so we have to play the bureaucratic game well or we get nothing.
An imperfect solution is better than nothing, and in the case of getting paved, car-free thoroughfares built, getting a foot in the door should be seen as a victory. We can lobby for the downhill car lane to be closed, once we have the uphill car lane closed.

Dave
Dave
3 years ago

The timing of repairs to Newberry’s landslide damage coincide with Multnomah County’s plan to close Cornelius Pass Road (HWY30 to Kaiser) all summer for needed safety improvements. Newberry and other roads providing access across the west hills are going to see a lot more auto traffic and this will have a big impact to cyclists on these popular routes.

Dan A
Dan A
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave

By “needed safety improvements”, do you think they will be replacing the speed signs to lower the speed limit, or adding more railings so that speeding drivers have something to bounce off of? I think I know which one….