WaCo: Another powderkeg about to spark for County Commission

Carla Axtman

Between the well-established 60s and 70s style homes nestled in well manicured lawns in Oak Hills and the newer 90s-2000s era dwellings on the western side runs Bethany Boulevard, a busy feeder road that awkwardly attempts to connect residents from a good chunk of the many Bethany neighborhoods to another awkwardly managed mess that eventually leads to a metered on-ramp to the Sunset Highway.

For years, the Washington County Commission has had their eye fixed on Bethany Blvd, coveting the land on either side of in hopes of its significant expansion. It's part of their grand master plan to paper over the Bethany region with oodles of houses, most of which without any substantive discussion or feedback from the public.

The plan includes expanding Bethany Blvd to five lanes from West Union Road south to Bronson Road.

View Larger Map

Basically, this the the Columbia River Crossing way of not actually solving the traffic issue. Expand a section in the middle of two clogged areas, allowing traffic to briefly spread out--and then force it back into a bottleneck. In this case, the bottleneck leads to the on ramp for Highway 26 northbound.

In order to complete the project, Washington County will have to acquire private property from landowners on either side of Bethany Blvd.

Resistance to this project has coalesced and organized with a group called 3 not 5. This organization is working to inform and activate local residents against efforts by Washington County for this project. And these guys aren't fooling around. They've hired an experienced land-use attorney to provide serious pushback against a laundry list of of grievances about the project from locals.

This is the second time in recent months that the County has seen citizens form grassroots resistance to their efforts to develop areas without appropriate public participation in the process. First was Save Helvetia, who organized in response to Washington County's awful urban and rural reserves plan. And now 3 not 5.

Looks like Washington County government is in for some long term headaches from citizens if they keep this up.

  • (Show?)

    I know this area well as relatives live along this corridor. The Wash.Co Commissioners deserve every bit of pushback they can get for this arbitrary and despicable treatment of existing landowners. I hope they lose this fight big time.

    • (Show?)

      I wish I could say they lost this fight, but they didn't. On Tuesday evening, the commissioners voted 3-2 to allow a 4-lane road. Not only will this negatively affect our property values and neighborhood feel, but also our safety. Greg Malinowski, the commissioner who represents our area, did do all that he could to help us win with a 3-lane road. During the meeting, the developers admitted that much of their data isn't complete because they're waiting for an updated report from Metro. They also admitted that the traffic isn't very bad right now because people are finding "alternate routes." Which begs the question...why do we need 4 lanes for people who are finding alternate routes anyway? The 3not5 committee and Oak Hills residents are not giving up without a fight-especially since finding out that two other roads that run on the perimeter for Oak Hills are being considered for widening. One thing we are looking into is becoming a nationally recognized historic district. Hopefully we'll be able to preserve our neighborhood.

connect with blueoregon