ODOT wins $11 million federal grant for final segment of Historic Highway project

The $52 million project will restore this old viaduct at Ruthton Point, sans the car access. (Photo: State of Oregon)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has inched closer to their dream of reconnecting the Historic Columbia River Highway between Troutdale and The Dalles. The “King of Roads” was dedicated in 1916 but fell into disrepair when I-84 was built. Already three decades into their effort, ODOT wants to re-open it as a 73-mile “world-class bicycle and pedestrian experience,” with a mix of carfree paths and low-volume shared roads.

Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jerff Merkley and Ron Wyden along with House Representative Earl Blumenauer, announced an $11 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration that will help pay for the final, 1.7-mile carfree segment of the epic project. The grant was awarded through the Biden Administration’s Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program.

Specifically, this funding will help ODOT complete a section of the project between Mitchell Point and Ruthton Trailhead in Hood River. Beginning just east of the newly restored Mitchell Point Tunnel segment that’s nearly complete and slated to open this summer, the Ruthton segment will cross under I-84 with a new tunnel next to the existing undercrossing on Mitchell Point Drive. After traveling east on the north side of I-84, the new path will connect to Hood River via Westcliff Drive, ending at Ruthton Trailhead with circular bus loop, a small parking area, restrooms and picnic benches. A highlight of this segment will be restoration of a historic viaduct at Ruthton Point that overlooks orchards and the Columbia River.

The total project cost is $52 million, so ODOT will still need to secure the remaining funds to stay on schedule for its completion in 2027.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Vans
Vans
13 days ago

This is such great news, the last piece is so small in size but so fraught in nature that it has been and is a monumental lift that could have stalled the whole thing to its end.

It will still be very far from ideal as all the landowners, businesses and municipalities have pushed back very hard on this, not wanting to give a single inch.

It will end up being a fairly spartan end with compromised roadsharing and minimal thought but into freeway on/off ramp interaction that may very well be not for the faint of heart.

Still a very good and desperately needed boost at the 11th hour Tx as usual to some very powerful advocates.

GF
GF
12 days ago

How about they get the stairs out of eagle creek too…

Vans
Vans
12 days ago
Reply to  GF

Different project but they are working on that too.

GF
GF
12 days ago
Reply to  Vans

I bet it going to take a ADA lawsuit for them to get off there butts to actually do something…

Vans
Vans
11 days ago
Reply to  GF

Maybe, I think that may already be happening but its not that simple and will likely not help.

This, like the rest is probably subject to similar process, study, funding, design, approval, state, federal, tribal, etc, ad nauseum.

I know for a fact they are looking at it so hopefully they get going on it.

It is a very big ask especially being on a freeway offramp, there is a lot that can’t be done because of that making the project far more complex and challenging, more expensive, etc, on and on.

Alan Love
Alan Love
12 days ago

I’m curious as to the bit in the graphic on the right about the bridges over Mitchell and Perham Creeks. Since the Mitchell Point tunnel section opens soon, what exists now at the creek crossings? Will the path at least be somewhat contiguous when Mitchell Point opens up?

Vans
Vans
12 days ago
Reply to  Alan Love

I think there will be a workaround that puts you on the shoulder of 84 like it is now, hopefully it will be separated.

I’ve been out there a few times and its not horrible but not any fun either.

Frank Selker
Frank Selker
8 days ago

Crazy to spend so much on this one so-so bike route. Imagine what good could have been accomplished all over the region for bikes with $52 million. Sometimes simplicity of vision is over weighted vs actual value.