Traffic always seems to flow better in the lane you’re not in, especially if you’re stuck on one of the major highways or interstates in the Portland metro area. This month’s Input survey, conducted by research partner Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, addresses transportation concerns in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The 755 survey respondents put traffic congestion right at the top of that list. (Also see this month’s cover story on port congestion on p. 26.)
But even though this summer will be the busiest construction season in years, with about $3 billion in projects occurring around the state, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials say the impact on the Portland area should be minimal, adding that most construction delays should not be more than 20 minutes, and major disruptions, such as lane closures, will be at night.
“It’s the way we have to design our projects,” says ODOT’s Michael Mason. Closing down a major freeway such as I-5 or U.S. 26 during daytime hours would lead to even bigger headaches for officials and drivers alike.
Some projects, like the modernization of Hwy. 217, will help relieve congestion through the addition of extra lanes, but most focus on fixing current roads. Of ODOT’s $2 billion highway budget for 2005-2007, 46% went toward maintaining roads. Mason says that while drivers may view highway expansion as the most beneficial, preserving lanes is also important.
Now if they could just fix it so that we’re always in the faster lane.
— Colleen Moran