Actions You Can Take
There are several ways residents can assist with maintaining county roads.
- Adopt-A-Road Program: This anti-litter program helps build community pride. Citizens adopt a portion of a county road and agree to pick up litter, maintain landscaping, and clean up vandalism. The county erects two signs to recognize you or your group and provides safety equipment, training, litter bags and litter removal.
- Owner Maintained Right of Way Program: If you own property along a county road and want to reduce use of herbicide on vegetation in the public right of way, you can sign up for this program. Property owners must agree to maintain vegetation in the right of way to county standards.
For more information on Adopt-A-Road or the Owner Maintained Right of Way programs, call 503-988-5050 Ext. 83582
Dangers of Skyline Area Roads
By Laura Foster, compiled from emails from area residents and local officials
Following the recent death on Cornelius Pass Road of Taija Lyn Belwood, a 17-year-old Columbia County resident, her family is advocating that the County install more guard rails. (See taija-belwood. com for the latest news.) The road has tight, double hairpin turns.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul McRedmond told KATU News, “It’s too narrow, too windy, poorly lit, poorly signed.” High traffic loads exacerbate the road’s challenges to drivers. With hazardous tankers forbidden to use the Vista Ridge Tunnels on Highway 26, they substitute Cornelius Pass Road to gain access to city or valley destinations; according to local resident Jay Kravitz, few additional safety provisions were made to upgrade the road to accommodate such traffic. Kravitz notes that after a collision fatality at the Skyline and Cornelius Pass Road intersection some years ago, this interchange was redesigned. That was the last noticeable major safety improvement. Reflectors on Cornelius Pass Road were eventually installed but are not serviced, cleansed or replaced.
Also problematic is that Cornelius Pass Road as well as Germantown Road have become commuter roads, with drivers intent on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible, sometimes seemingly oblivious that their commuter road is another person’s local street. According to recent news reports, 11,000 vehicles use Cornelius Pass Road each day, an increase of 100 percent in the last seven years.
Cornelius Pass and Germantown are just two of our local roads that have safety issues. Kravitz, a ridge resident since 1979, notes that he has dealt with motor vehicle accidents at his driveway on Skyline Boulevard on a regular basis, about one to two each month.
In a November 2007 email to a representative of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office, Kravitz wrote, “There was another motor vehicle ‘event’ on Skyline last night at my driveway, where a major unanticipated curve has been the scene of many incidents over the years. I call them ‘events’ rather than accidents because most are caused by excessive speed. In the past 2 months there have been 4: two cars and two motorcycles. In the past year easily 15-20 events have occurred. I call this ‘dead-man’s curve,’ well-known to local residents. For more than 20 years I have repeatedly asked the county sheriff’s office, the Roads Department, and several county commissioners to intervene in some fashion.
Chevrons and white reflectors were placed at that time. The chevrons are routinely knocked down (estimated 4 times per year) and white reflectors have not been replaced, when damaged. Regardless of what the ‘basic rule’ may be, the stretch of road from my driveway to the Speroffs’s is the site of many events. Additional speed signs warning of ‘dangerous curve’ or ‘hidden drive’ or a speed limitation seem prudent and necessary! The accident last night was a roll-over. Eventually, someone is going to die in this curve. I don’t believe that a response to improve traffic safety on Skyline should occur after that fatality happens. I would be pleased to show interested parties the problem.”
Kravitz notes that no response was received. His neighbor, Laurel Erhardt, a thirty-plus-year resident of the ridge, writes in an email on the subject, “We can relate many, many stories of helping out, lending a phone, pulling someone out of a ditch .... 99% of those we have helped were either driving too fast or drinking too much.”
Mitch Satter, Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff, said that with regards to Skyline, between Cornelius Pass and Rocky Point Road, it is a 55 mph zone (with one exception: a 0.75 mile long 35 mph zone just north of Cornelius Pass) with the Basic Rule in place. The Oregon. gov website explains: “the Basic Rule states that a motorist must drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent at all times by considering other traffic, road, and weather conditions, dangers at intersections and any other conditions that affect safety and speed.
The Basic Rule does not allow motorists to drive faster than the posted speed, nor does it set absolute speeds designated for all conditions. The Rule expects drivers to be responsible for their own actions.” (Editor’s note: It is surprising to some of us that Skyline is considered a 55 mph zone; although this rate is not posted, it seems to be an excessive speed to negotiate the road’s curves.)
In exact counterpoint to the Basic Rule is the practice of “drifting,” a type of reckless driving. According to one website, “For the uninitiated, drifting consists of turning at speeds in excess of the vehicle’s ability to adhere to the roadway. For the layman, it can be defined as ‘Driving sideways without hitting things.’ This results in an intentional spin, which is to be controlled, countered, reversed, and repeated for best results. Several issues arise from this habit.
Obviously, when reckless driving becomes your standard mechanism for transit, driving bears some resemblance to a video game. Other drivers and pedestrians become merely obstacles to avoid.” According to Laurel Erhardt, some websites direct drivers to the best places to drift in Oregon. Those places include Skyline Boulevard, Rocky Point Road, and McNamee Road.