Improving traffic and safety on the Historic Highway

Your source for updates and information regarding efforts to remember, restore and reconnect the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail - a world class adventure from Portland to The Dalles. 

historic columbia river highway

Actions to improve traffic flow and safety on the Historic Highway

About the Congestion and Safety Plan

For over 100 years, thousands of drivers, cyclists and hikers have used the Historic Columbia River Highway to access some of the Gorge’s most beautiful destinations or their communities. In the last five years, traffic along the Historic Highway, located just south of Interstate 84, has grown nearly 50 percent, as millions of tourists and recreation users visited the Gorge.

State and federal governmental partners responsible for public safety, traffic flow and natural resource management started an action plan to build on prior planning efforts and implement solutions to address increasing concerns with traffic congestion and transportation safety in the waterfall corridor. Later this year, the partners will finalize a Congestion and Transportation Safety Improvement Plan

Key issues identified

Through analysis and public input, the project team identified nine key issues (view full report).

  • Traffic congestion related to parking behavior.
  • Pedestrians crossing the Historic Highway causing vehicle delays.
  • Parking at capacity.
  • Increased visitor and vehicle numbers.
  • Bicycle access and safety.
  • Desire for more transit service.
  • Large vehicle safety and delay.
  • Negative user experience.
  • Impacts to the environment.


Many tools considered

ODOT, the U.S. Forest Service, Multnomah County and Oregon State Parks reviewed many different tools to determine which will best improve safety and reduce congestion in the Historic Highway. The Congestion Mitigation and Safety Toolkit and Analysis details many examples, including (view the full technical memo):

  • Technology systems: Variable message signs, real time parking and traffic information.
  • Improvements to transit, bicycling and walking:  Transit and shuttle service along the Historic Highway, park and ride facilities, improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities, traffic flagger teams at Multnomah Falls.
  • Priced parking along the corridor, including at the Multnomah Falls I-84 and Historic Highway parking lots.
  • Study of one-way travel on the Historic Highway.
  • Improved signage and wayfinding.
  • Large vehicle use restrictions.


Your ideas to improve traffic and safety

We talked to Gorge community members earlier this year to gather feedback on potential strategies to address congestion and safety. Ideas and input informed development of the draft plan. Some of the most frequently mentioned strategies included:

  • Increase rule enforcement.
  • Use traffic flagger teams to actively manage congestion.
  • Add priced parking where appropriate, with consideration of effects to low-income and other disadvantaged populations.
  • Inform travel choices with better communication, education and signage.
  • Create more transit and alternative transportation opportunities.


Coming soon: Your chance to review draft solutions 

We’re looking for your input on draft solutions to address congestion and safety issues. Save the dates below to have your say online or in-person.

  • Online Open House: Sept. 24 – Oct. 8, 2018

Learn about and comment on draft solutions on your own time. We’ll send you an email when the online open house is live.

  • In-Person Open House: Oct. 3, 2018 5-7 pm

Join us at the Hollywood Senior Center in Portland to talk to staff about draft solutions and share your comments. Drop in anytime.

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