Tour de Lab September 1st

Construction begins next month on NW Newberry Rd

Posted by on December 21st, 2018 at 9:30 am

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.

Advertisement

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

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

30 Comments
  • Avatar
    Bennett Shane December 21, 2018 at 9:31 am

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • Avatar
    Paul B December 21, 2018 at 10:00 am

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

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    dan December 21, 2018 at 10:01 am

    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.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • Avatar
      Allan Rudwick January 8, 2019 at 10:54 pm

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

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      jered February 20, 2019 at 3:25 pm

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

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    rick December 21, 2018 at 10:20 am

    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?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Mick O December 21, 2018 at 10:56 am

    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 Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      rick December 21, 2018 at 11:18 am

      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.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Avatar
      BradWagon January 2, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      … what?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Fred December 21, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    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?

    Recommended Thumb up 14

    • Avatar
      oliver December 24, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      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.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Bennett Shane December 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    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

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Matt S. December 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    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.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Stephen Keller December 21, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    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.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Avatar
      Middle of the Road Guy December 23, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Why pave it if there are no cars?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Stephen Keller December 23, 2018 at 2:11 pm

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

        Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Avatar
        Ken S December 24, 2018 at 6:59 am

        …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.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Avatar
          Middle of The Road Guy December 24, 2018 at 9:44 am

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

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • Avatar
            Dan A December 24, 2018 at 3:51 pm

            “just a bike road”

            Why are you here?

            Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Avatar
          Middle of The Road Guy December 24, 2018 at 9:45 am

          Not sure you can blame a landslide on cars.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Dan A December 24, 2018 at 7:56 am

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

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Avatar
          Middle of The Road Guy December 24, 2018 at 9:44 am

          Really – I had no idea.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            Ken S December 24, 2018 at 10:21 am

            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?

            Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Lisa December 22, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    🙁

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Ken S December 22, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    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 Thumb up 9

  • Avatar
    mark smith December 25, 2018 at 7:50 am

    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!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    mark smith December 25, 2018 at 7:50 am

    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?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Avatar
      Ken S January 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      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.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Dave January 8, 2019 at 10:28 am

    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.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Avatar
      Dan A January 9, 2019 at 9:46 am

      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….

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar