|Volume 11, Issue 9||
Saltzman Road, Past and Future
|At the top end of Red Cedar, looking north toward Springville.|
In 2003, the county addressed a problem at the intersection of Saltzman and Thompson. The two sides of Thompson didn’t line up, and it was an unsafe condition with the nearby, newly-built Findley Elementary. The ultimate alignment of Thompson is supposed to angle to the southwest through the subdivision, but that won’t be opened until the former Lehman property (now owned by THPRD as a future park site) is developed.
More importantly, with North Bethany rapidly becoming a reality, and Area 93 poised to join Washington County and begin development, improving the stretch of Saltzman between Thompson and Laidlaw Roads as a Collector—and eventually connecting it with Springville Road and beyond—becomes more urgent. Even if the northern extension to Springville Road isn’t built for 50 years, we need to plan now to dedicate right-of-way, so we don’t preclude that connection.
In 2004, Washington County adopted an ordinance calling for a study area—facilitating realignment of Saltzman Road to remove the “thrill-ride” upper end of Saltzman south of Laidlaw Road, and providing for a planned extension of Saltzman Road north of Laidlaw Road. Approximately $6 million was earmarked from the MSTIP Next Steps program “to design future improvements and acquire right-of-way.” Apparently the ordinance was never “programmed” into the budget, the study called for in the ordinance was never completed, and needed improvements aren't currently on the county’s list of road projects.
|From the 2012 development application for the property at the top of Red Cedar|
Typically, the county waits until development is proposed to create roads. New development determines where roads will go, and the county depends on developers to pay for both the design and construction of new roads. A 2012 development proposal for parcels north of Laidlaw mentions the above ordinance, saying, “The term ‘Saltzman Road’ Extension Study Area can be misleading and is somewhat of a misnomer especially when reviewing the existing alignment of NW 130th Avenue in relation to ‘Saltzman Road.’ The section of NW 130th Avenue north of NW Laidlaw Road is the eventual continuation of realigned NW Saltzman Road.”
“The Study Area anticipates the future realignment of NW Saltzman Road from its current easterly location west, to where it will line up with NW 130th Avenue...NW 130th Avenue is proposed to eventually continue on into Multnomah County. The exact alignment of NW 130th beyond the current project site is not yet fully established.”
Al Boesel, the county planner who worked on that development application says, “However, because properties in Multnomah County north of Laidlaw Road are in the Rural Reserve, the study of Saltzman Rd. will be primarily limited to lands south of Laidlaw Road.” Springville Road leads directly to North Bethany, and it might be prudent to plan for at least that connection by preserving sufficient right-of-way.
|Looking south from the top of Red Cedar. The circled white dot is headlights from a car just ready to head down the "thrill ride."|
When the first version of the Paul development (north of Thompson along the west side of Saltzman just before it begins to curve downhill, see May 2013 CMN) was proposed, drawings showed the stub of the Saltzman realignment that would drape the road over the steep slope heading down through Ken Findley’s property along Laidlaw west of Saltzman. If the road were built along this alignment, it could require a 40 ft.+ high pile of fill that could be 250 ft. wide—more like a freeway overpass than a county road. The Paul development application has been withdrawn for technical reasons, but will undoubtedly be resubmitted.
Development currently occurring at the north end of Red Cedar/130th suggest future road alignments that might prevent a direct connection to Springville.
A group of community members from the Saltzman Road area is concerned about the lack of direction from the county. They feel the county must step in and make a final determination about the Saltzman extension and stop letting developers make the decisions. They have been investigating an alternative route that would avoid the steep slope. The group has a FaceBook page (Solving Saltzman) and is communicating with developers, county staff and elected representatives, and others, to focus attention on this future road and road realignment.
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Portland, Oregon 97291