At the August 23rd Troutdale City Council Meeting, a resolution to support the vacation of the "242nd Connector" right of way was on the agenda at the request of Multnomah County. The 242nd connector is part of a plan to link Interstate 84 and Highway 26 in the future.
The Troutdale City Council voted 4-3 in favor of keeping the 242nd right of way. Earlier that evening, we also voted 4-3 to keep the 242nd connector as part of the city's Master Transportation Plan.
Multnomah County wants to vacate the right of way because they are trying to sell property to the Reynolds School District that includes the right of way. Multnomah County needs the money from the sale of this property to pay for a proposed Justice Center in Gresham. Because the right of way is within Troutdale, the county needed our approval before they could proceed with vacation.
I voted to keep the 242nd connector right of way because it was the responsible thing to do. The problems of north-south access in east Multnomah County don't just affect Troutdale. They affect the entire region and Troutdale needs to be part of the solution.
I voted to keep the 242nd right of way because I believe Troutdale's livability would be damaged if we failed to keep the door open for another north-south route. I don't want Troutdale's roads to end up like those of Beaverton and Hillsboro, or even Dundee, where all roads are jammed to capacity virtually 24 hours a day. Once the traffic got to that point here in east Multnomah County, it could take ten or fifteen years, if ever, to solve the traffic capacity problem. Financially, if we gave up the right of way now, it would be cost prohibitive in the future to purchase a right of way we already have today.
As part of Troutdale's Master Transportation Plan, our consultants DKS Associates advised it would be premature to vacate the 242nd right of way.
At the August 23 City Council meeting, Multnomah County officials testified in favor of getting rid of the right of way. But they were unprepared and unpersuasive. They claimed that 257th and 207th could easily handle an additional 10,000 cars per day. They claimed they had a 2001 traffic study to prove this, but failed to bring copies of their studies to the meeting. Even so, when Councilor Gorsek asked if that study took into consideration the thousands of acres of property recently added to the Urban Growth Boundary south of Gresham, they admitted it did not.
Councilor Gorsek said he was concerned about the different conclusions of the traffic study done by Multnomah County, which indicated there was no need for the 242nd connector, and studies done by Metro, which indicated there was still a great need for another north-south traffic route between I-84 and Highway 26.
I was also concerned about the conflict between the Metro and the Multnomah County traffic studies. As I stated at the August 23rd meeting, the only difference between the two traffic studies was that Metro was not trying to sell a piece of land that included the 242nd right of way! This was the reason Multnomah wanted Troutdale to authorize the vacation of the 242nd right of way. It had nothing to do with future needs for traffic capacity.
New homes, businesses, and stores by the thousands are going to be built in the Damascus and Sunnyside areas south of Troutdale. That means that hordes of traffic to and from that area will be coming north and south on 181st, 207th, 242nd, and 257th. If we don't make sure we have the potential to have the 242nd connector built from Highway 26 to I-84, Troutdale's roads will be filled to capacity with traffic in numbers that will seem like the unstoppable "bugs" that came by the millions in the movie Starship Troopers.