Interstate 205 (Oregon–Washington)

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Interstate 205 marker
Interstate 205
War Veterans Memorial Freeway
Map of the Portland area with I-205 highlighted in red
Route information
Auxiliary route of I-5
Maintained by ODOT and WSDOT
Length37.13 mi[1][2] (59.75 km)
HistoryCompleted in 1983
Major junctions
South end I-5 in Tualatin, OR
North end I-5 in Salmon Creek, WA
StatesOregon, Washington
CountiesOR: Washington, Clackamas, Multnomah
WA: Clark
Highway system

OR 204OR OR 205
SR 204WA SR 206

Interstate 205 (I-205) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway in the Portland metropolitan area of Oregon and Washington. It serves as a bypass route of I-5, traveling north–south along the east side of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, intersecting several major highways and serving Portland International Airport.

The freeway is 37 miles (60 km) long and connects to I-5 at both of its termini: to the south in Tualatin, Oregon, and to the north in Salmon Creek, Washington. I-205 is officially named the War Veterans Memorial Freeway in both states, and is known as the East Portland Freeway No. 64 in Oregon (see Oregon highways and routes). From Oregon City to Vancouver, the corridor is paralleled by a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trail, as well as portions of the MAX Light Rail system between Clackamas and northeastern Portland.

A freeway to serve as an eastern bypass of Portland and Vancouver was conceived in a 1943 plan for the area and later included in the federal government's preliminary plans for the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. I-205 was assigned in 1958 as the designation for the eastern bypass and was initially planned by the Oregon state government to travel east through Lake Oswego and travel closer to the inner neighborhoods of Portland. In response to protests from several communities, the route of I-205 was pushed further east and south into other areas of Clackamas County.

Construction began in 1967 with work on the Abernethy Bridge over the Willamette River, which opened in 1970. I-205 was extended west to Tualatin and north to Gladstone by 1972, but further expansion into Multnomah County was halted by opposition from local governments. Following negotiations between Oregon, Multnomah County, and Portland, the initial ten-lane design was replaced in 1976 by a six-lane freeway with a parallel busway and multi-use trail.

The freeway was extended into southern Portland in 1977 and was followed by the opening of the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, spanning the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver, on December 15, 1982. The bridge connected to the Washington section of I-205, which had been completed in two stages between 1975 and 1976. The remaining 6.6 miles (10.6 km) in Portland opened on March 8, 1983, with additional ramps constructed two years later to connect with I-84.

Route description[edit]

I-205 functions primarily as a bypass of I-5 within the Portland metropolitan area, serving the eastern suburban areas of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.[4] It is listed as part of the National Highway System, identifying routes that are important to the national economy, defense, and mobility, and recognized by Washington state as a Highway of Statewide Significance.[5][6] The Oregon portion of I-205 is designated as East Portland Freeway No. 64 under the state's named highway system.[7] The Oregon portion was also designated as the War Veterans Memorial Highway in 2000 and has since been home to an annual vehicle convoy near Veterans Day.[8][9]

I-205 is maintained by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) within their respective states. Both agencies conduct annual surveys of traffic on segments of the freeway, the results of which are expressed in terms of average annual daily traffic (AADT), a measure of traffic volume for any average day of the year. Average traffic volumes on the Oregon portion in 2018 ranged from a minimum of 87,800 in Stafford to 170,900 near Division Street in Portland.[10] The Washington portion ranged from a minimum of 47,000 in Salmon Creek to 160,000 on the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge in 2019.[11] The Glenn Jackson Bridge is the busier of the two main bridges over the Columbia River in the Portland area, with the older Interstate Bridge on I-5 carrying a daily average of 138,000 vehicles.[12]

Washington and Clackamas counties[edit]

A four-lane section of I-205 in West Linn, approaching an interchange with OR 43

I-205 begins at a semi-directional T interchange with I-5 in eastern Tualatin, a suburb in Washington County, Oregon. The four-lane freeway travels east along Saum Creek and the Tualatin River into Clackamas County, where it passes a mix of housing subdivisions, forests, and farmland. After crossing the river, I-205 dives southeasterly into West Linn and runs along the banks of the Willamette River near Willamette Falls; the freeway has a scenic overlook of the falls for northbound traffic.[13] After an interchange with Oregon Route 43 (OR 43), I-205 crosses the Willamette River on the sloped Abernethy Bridge, which carries six lanes for 2,727 feet (831 m) into Oregon City and is capped at the east by an interchange with OR 99E.[14] The freeway passes the Oregon City train station, served by Amtrak's Cascades,[15] and follows the railroad north to a junction with OR 213, which becomes concurrent to I-205.[16][17]

The freeway continues north across the Clackamas River through residential and industrial areas in Gladstone and Clackamas. Near Johnson City, I-205 intersects the west end of OR 212, which provides access to Boring and Mount Hood. The concurrency with OR 213 ends at a partial cloverleaf interchange with OR 224 (the Sunrise Expressway) on the west side of Mount Talbert near several radio towers. I-205 briefly expands to eight lanes and intersects several roads near the Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center and the Clackamas Town Center, a regional shopping mall, before continuing north through an unincorporated residential area between Milwaukie and Happy Valley.[18] The freeway travels north with tracks on the west side for the MAX Green Line, a light rail service operated by TriMet, and enters the city of Portland in Multnomah County.[17][19]

Portland and Vancouver[edit]

I-205 passes through the eastern neighborhoods of Portland, about 5 miles (8.0 km) from downtown, and runs parallel to the I-205 Transitway (carrying the MAX Green Line) and OR 213 on 82nd Avenue.[17] From the Clackamas Town Center, the freeway travels through residential areas in the Lents neighborhood at the foot of Mount Scott, which is home to the Willamette National Cemetery. I-205 intersects U.S. Route 26 (US 26) at Powell Boulevard near Kelly Butte and the Jade District in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.[20][21] North of Division Street, the freeway forms the boundary between the Montavilla and Hazelwood neighborhoods as the MAX Green Line switches to the east side.[20] I-205 then intersects Stark, Burnside, and Gilsan streets with a series of weaving ramps near Mall 205 and the Adventist Health Portland hospital.[16]

Aerial view of the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, which carries I-205 across the Columbia River

North of Gilsan Street, the freeway intersects I-84 and US 30 near the Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center, where the MAX Green Line turns west. I-205 and I-84 travel parallel for one mile (1.6 km) along the base of Rocky Butte, following a section of the MAX Red Line on the I-205 Transitway. I-84 and US 30 turn east towards the Columbia River Gorge at Northeast Fremont Street, while I-205 continues north around the suburban enclave of Maywood Park with the light rail trackway in its median.[17] The freeway intersects US 30 Bypass (Northeast Killingsworth Street) and turns northeast to pass under a railroad in the Parkrose neighborhood.[20] The MAX Red Line leaves the freeway to travel west towards Portland International Airport, which is accessed from I-205 by an interchange with Airport Way on the south side of the Columbia River.[16] I-205 crosses the Columbia River and Government Island on the eight-lane Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, a concrete segmental bridge that spans a total of 11,750 feet (3,580 m) between Oregon and Washington.[22]

On the Washington side of the river, I-205 serves the northeastern side of Vancouver and its unincorporated suburbs in Clark County.[4][23] The freeway intersects State Route 14 (SR 14), a regional east–west freeway with connections to Downtown Vancouver and the CamasWashougal area, in a partial combination interchange on the north side of the river.[24] I-205 curves northwest to intersect Mill Plain Boulevard in a partial cloverleaf interchange and Northeast 18th Street in a half-diamond interchange before continuing north through predominantly residential neighborhoods. The six-lane freeway then reaches a cloverleaf interchange with another east–west freeway, SR 500, on the east side of the Vancouver Mall.[23][25] I-205 narrows to four lanes and travels northwest along LaLonde Creek to the community of Salmon Creek, where it terminates at an interchange with I-5.[4] The interchange, located southwest of Washington State University Vancouver, is incomplete and requires some movements to be made by a pair of half-diamond interchanges on Northeast 134th Street.[16][26]

Multi-use trail[edit]

The multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trail on I-205, seen in the median of the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge

A multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trail follows I-205 for much of its distance on the Oregon side of the Portland metropolitan area,[4] and connects to the Springwater Corridor trail near the Foster Road exit. The paved trail parallels the highway and the I-205 Transitway for 19 miles (31 km)[27] from Oregon City to Southeast 23rd Street in Vancouver.[28][29] The 12-foot-wide (3.7 m) trail is situated in the middle of the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, between lanes of traffic with 4.5-foot (1.4 m) barriers, with no ramps to Government Island.[30][31] The I-205 Trail is managed by ODOT, but some trash pickup and site cleanup responsibilities were transferred to the Portland city government in 2018.[32][33]


Planning and routing debate[edit]

The general location of Portland-area freeways from the 1955 Bureau of Public Roads plan, including the Laurelhurst Freeway as an eastern bypass

The Portland Improvement Plan of 1943, conceived by New York-based planner Robert Moses, included a "scenic thoroughfare" bypassing Portland to the east, as well as an inner loop of major roads in the downtown area.[34] An earlier comprehensive plan from 1912 had also envisioned a series of arterial highways along the future corridor, leading to a bridge over the Columbia River via Government Island.[35] The corridor was among four Portland-area routes included in a 1955 plan from the federal Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) for what would become the Interstate Highway System, approved a year later.[36][37] The Oregon State Highway Commission designated it as the Laurelhurst Freeway, generally traveling along Northeast 39th Avenue (now César E. Chávez Boulevard) through the Laurelhurst neighborhood between Tualatin and a new, toll-free bridge over the Columbia River.[38][39] The proposed bridge was later shifted west to Northeast 30th Avenue to accommodate a runway extension at Portland International Airport.[40]

I-205 was approved as the designation for the Portland–Vancouver bypass freeway in November 1958 by the American Association of State Highway Officials.[3] It was added to Washington's state highway system in 1961 as a branch of Primary State Highway 1, later being renumbered to State Route 205 in 1964.[41][42] To connect with its parent route (designated as I-5) at Tualatin, the Laurelhurst Freeway would turn west to cross the Willamette River at Lake Oswego and travel along the south side of its eponymous lake. It was planned to be the last major freeway in the Portland area to be completed under the 1955 plan, with construction planned to be finished by 1974 at an estimated cost of $70 million (equivalent to $468 million in 2019 dollars).[43][44][45] At the time, a corresponding western bypass of Portland was omitted from plans due to the topography of the Tualatin Mountains and a low population,[46] but was later proposed in the 1960s as the Rivergate Freeway.[47][48]

The first set of alternatives for the Laurelhurst Freeway, later renamed the Central East Side Freeway and dropped in favor of I-205,[49] were presented to the public in 1961 and 1962 ahead of a formal routing study.[50][51] The Oregon State Highway Department presented five alternatives for the east–west section through Lake Oswego in December 1961 that drew opposition from community members and the local school district, which feared that it would "cut off" the schools from homes.[52][53] The Laurelhurst Community Council also organized opposition to the freeway plans at public hearings the following month, with local residents fearing disruption of the neighborhood's existing character and an influx of low-income and multi-family development.[54] Following a petition drive from residents, the Lake Oswego city council unanimously passed a resolution in April 1963 in opposition to any routing of I-205 in the city or a bridge over the Willamette River that would require freeway construction.[55]

For a series of public hearings beginning in September 1963, the Oregon State Highway Department drew a new alternative proposal for I-205 that would cross the Willamette River south of Lake Oswego but travel further east of Portland along 111th Avenue, crossing the Columbia River east of the airport at Government Island. Another alternative would scrap the Lake Oswego alignment entirely in favor of an east–west route along Division Street and Powell Boulevard (US 26) from I-5 at the Marquam Bridge, which had already been proposed for the Mount Hood Freeway.[49][56] After initial disagreements, the city governments of West Linn and Milwaukee joined with a local chamber of commerce to support the Lake Oswego and 111th Avenue alternatives, while Lake Oswego remained opposed.[57][58]

The Oregon State Highway Commission promised to not pursue a Lake Oswego alignment, as it would not be possible with opposition from the city government, but delayed its final decision by several months.[59] The Portland–Vancouver Metropolitan Transportation Study (PVMTS) Technical Advisory Committee, a separate planning body formed in 1960 to produce a comprehensive plan,[60] submitted an alignment to the state in June 1964 that would follow Tryon Creek along the northern edge of Lake Oswego and turn northeast to run in a trench following Northeast 52nd Avenue through Milwaukie and Portland.[61][62] The route would then cut back west to cross the Columbia River west of the airport and continue through eastern Vancouver by following 54th Avenue towards Salmon Creek.[63][64]

The PVMTS-recommended route faced opposition from public officials in Vancouver, Lake Oswego, and Multnomah County,[65][66] as well as citizens at public hearings held in Milwaukie, eastern Portland, Lake Oswego, and Glencoe.[67][68] Other proposals from political and commercial groups included routing the east–west leg as far south as Canby and as far east as Gresham.[69] The Multnomah County government remained supportive of an east–west route using the Mount Hood Freeway corridor, connecting with a north–south leg along 96th Avenue in eastern Portland, which it estimated would cost $38 million less (equivalent to $244 million in 2019 dollars)[43] than the PVMTS plan.[70][71] The Portland Citizens Freeway Committee was organized in early July from several neighborhood groups who opposed the 52nd Avenue route and presented a petition with 7,000 signatures to the Oregon State Highway Commission at a meeting in late August.[72][73]

On October 14, 1964, the Oregon State Highway Department endorsed the Mount Hood Freeway and 96th Avenue alignment for I-205 in a report submitted to the Oregon State Highway Commission, proposing an eight-lane freeway that would cost approximately $90 million (equivalent to $578 million in 2019 dollars)[43] to construct.[74][75] The decision drew criticism from members of the PVMTS, particularly in Clark County on the Washington side,[76] and the Portland City Planning Commission despite the city's earlier support of the 96th Avenue alignment.[77][78] The Oregon State Highway Commission organized a week-long public hearing and exhibit in early December at the Portland Public Auditorium for the proposed corridor,[79] which drew 600 to 700 people. At the hearing, the Multnomah County Commissioners was joined by the cities of Gresham and Camas, Washington, in supporting the 96th Avenue alignment, while the City of Portland declined to endorse a specific plan.[80][81]

The Oregon State Highway Commission had planned to send its own recommendation to the Bureau of Public Roads, but delayed action due to a major flood in late December that destroyed several highways.[82] The commissioners considered moving I-205 to outside of Portland's city limits to avoid confrontations with the city government, who later opened negotiations after receiving pressure from state legislators.[83][84] The commission endorsed the Mount Hood—96th Avenue alignment in March 1965.[85][86] The Portland Planning Commission responded by proposing the 52nd Avenue alignment through Laurelhurst in lieu of widening arterial streets and a new east–west option near the Sellwood Bridge and along Johnson Creek to avoid Lake Oswego.[87][88] In April, the Portland City Council voted 4–1 to reject the state's 96th Avenue alignment but took no action on the Planning Commission's proposed route.[89]

Facing a July 1 deadline (later extended to September 1) imposed by the Bureau of Public Roads on a routing decision, the Oregon State Highway Department turned to a new corridor that would avoid the city of Portland.[90] In May, the department proposed an extended version of the 96th Avenue alignment that would continue further south to cross the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn and turn west, terminating in Tualatin.[91] The new alignment would be 3.7 miles (6.0 km) over the allocated mileage for I-205, requiring additional approval from the BPR, and had previously proposed in March as part of the Central Clackamas Freeway.[91][92] The West Linn–96th alignment was given tentative approval by the BPR and was sent by the Oregon State Highway Commission to local governments in June as an "all or nothing" option.[93] While continuing to work on their favored Mount Hood alignment, the City of Portland agreed to cooperate with the state on the new I-205 alignment, which would only pass through a small portion of the Lents neighborhood.[94][95]

On September 8, 1965, the Portland City Council approved the state's West Linn–96th alignment for I-205, following the rejection of funds for the Mount Hood Freeway by the BPR.[96][97] A day earlier, the Washington State Highway Commission had approved the location of the freeway's bridge over the Columbia River at Government Island as well as a tentative route through eastern Vancouver to Salmon Creek, rejecting an earlier proposal from Clark County to extend the freeway to Ridgefield.[96][98] By October, the new Oregon alignment had gained the approval of all local governments along its route except for Washington County, which proposed a western bypass instead that was rejected by the state government.[47]

The Oregon State Highway Commission adopted the West Linn–96th alignment on November 19, 1965, and forwarded the proposal to the BPR for approval despite opposition from Washington County and residents at public hearings.[99][100] The Washington side's routing was finalized in late December and also forwarded to the BPR.[101] The revised routing in Oregon was approved by the BPR in March 1966 and was followed two months later by approval of Washington's alignment.[102][103] I-205 was also integrated into the state highway system of Oregon as East Portland Freeway Highway No. 64 on April 21, 1966.[104] The 52nd Avenue alignment was revived as a separate freeway proposal in a long-term plan, but never fully funded.[105][106] The Mount Hood Freeway was approved in 1969 by the federal government as part of the relocation of I-80N (now I-84), which would be partially concurrent with I-205, from the existing Banfield Expressway until it was cancelled entirely in 1974.[107][108]

Tualatin–Clackamas construction[edit]

I-205 crosses the Willamette River on the Abernethy Bridge, which opened in 1970

Preliminary work on the West Linn–Oregon City bridge (now named the Abernethy Bridge) began in April 1967 with piledriving to determine the bridge's foundation requirements.[109] Construction of the bridge would have required closing access to a popular fishing site on the Willamette River, causing local sport fishers to protest until a nearby site was donated for use as a new boat launch and public fishing area.[110] Demolition for the bridge project, which included an existing shopping center, began in January 1968 and construction of the bridge itself was underway a month later.[111][112] It opened to traffic on May 28, 1970, and cost $17.1 million to construct (equivalent to $88.6 million in 2019 dollars),[43] completing the first section of I-205.[113]

Construction began on the second section of I-205, running for 8 miles (13 km) between I-5 in Tualatin and the bridge's approach in West Linn, in 1968 and was completed on January 12, 1971. It cost $22.5 million (equivalent to $111 million in 2019 dollars)[43] and required the removal of 2.5 million cubic yards (1.9×10^6 m3) of soil and rock,[114] including blasting the basalt cliffs for over a year during daytime hours.[115][116] Excavation for the project caused a series of landslides in 1969 near West Linn that severely damaged the city's water reservoir, destroyed three homes, and delayed the opening by months;[114] the reservoir was replaced with state funding the following year after several months of rationing.[117]

The West Linn section's opening spurred new residential development in the area and was expected to cause major increases in smog density.[118][119][120] The section also included the first rest area on I-205, built near West Linn,[121] and was designated as a state scenic highway to ban billboards and commercial development near Tualatin.[122] The freeway was extended northeast from Oregon City to Gladstone in late 1972,[123][124] connecting with an existing expressway bypass for OR 213 through Park Place that opened in July 1962.[125][126] The interchange with OR 99E on the east approach of the bridge was built on fill using debris from excavation of the West Linn section.[127] The final section in Clackamas County, connecting OR 213 at Lake Road to Sunnyside Road, opened in February 1975.[128]

Portland delays and design changes[edit]

On its second attempt,[129] the neighborhood of Maywood Park near Rocky Butte incorporated as a city in June 1967 in order to halt construction of I-205 using a lawsuit against the state.[130][131] The lawsuit delayed planning as Maywood Park lost and appealed through count and state courts,[132] but its final appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit in 1976 was denied on the grounds that Multnomah County had jurisdiction over the area at the time of its design approval.[133][134] A total of 87 homes in Maywood Park were demolished to make way for freeway construction, but I-205 was relocated from an elevated viaduct to a trench around the city.[135]

Another objection to the freeway's routing came from the Port of Portland, which had planned to extend the runways of Portland International Airport in a manner that would interfere with I-205's crossing of Government Island and the Columbia River.[136] Planning of the bridge, which would use dredged fill near Government Island for its southern approach, was halted until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the runway plans in August 1969.[137][138] The bridge's basic design was approved by the FHWA in September 1971,[139] but was extensively modified after the shelving of the runway extension plans in 1973.[140] The lack of a runway expansion and its associated dredging work would necessitate need a longer southern approach, increasing costs by $20 million (equivalent to $89.7 million in 2019 dollars)[43] and delaying planning by 20 months.[141][142] The bridge plans were also modified in 1973 to include a bicycle and pedestrian path in the median to comply with the Oregon Bicycle Bill.[143]

The Oregon state government began acquiring homes, businesses, and other properties on the future route of I-205, either through buyouts or condemnation, in 1967. The buildings themselves were auctioned for relocation to clear the right-of-way.[144][145] Several business owners in eastern Portland appealed to state legislators for compensation, financial assistant for moving, and a year to relocate after they were displaced by freeway construction.[146][147] A group representing the Clackamas Industrial Area, to be bisected by I-205, requested a study in 1967 to find a new route that would avoid the industrial park.[148][149] The study concluded that an alternate alignment would be infeasible and displace nearby homes, leading to the commission retaining the original plan in a 1969 decision.[150][151]

Under the initial design proposed for I-205 through Portland in 1970, the freeway would be eight to ten lanes wide and would carry a portion of I-80N between the Mount Hood Freeway and Banfield Expressway.[152] The Portland and Multnomah County governments raised concerns about noise and air pollution near Lents School and the Rocky Butte Jail, the latter of which would sit 50 feet (15 m) from the freeway, and requested several design changes with a full environmental impact statement (EIS).[153][154] The state's draft EIS, published in 1972, concluded that I-205 would not have a major adverse impact on the local area, but was criticized by the Multnomah County environmental planner for not considering a "no build" option.[155][156]

On July 2, 1974, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted 3–2 to revoke their approval for the design of I-205 within the county. Board commissioners Donald Clark and Mel Gordon had proposed the move with the goal of forcing negotiations to reduce the freeway to eight lanes, remove several interchanges, add a transit corridor, and replace elevated sections with trenches.[157] Several anti-freeway groups who had filed air pollution complaints with the state, including the Sierra Club, the Oregon Environmental Council, End Needless Urban Freeways (ENUF), and Sensible Transportation Options for People (STOP), supported the proposed changes and added calls to include provisions for a busway or light rail line on the corridor.[34][158] The Federal Highway Administration (successor to the BPR) denied a request from the county to withdraw its support and funding for the original design, instead authorizing ODOT (successor to the Highway Department) to advertise bids for the southernmost section in February 1975.[159] The Portland City Council called on the state and county to seek a compromise, but endorsed the modified design with a busway.[160]

The second draft EIS, released by ODOT in February 1975, concluded that constructing I-205 as originally designed would reduce congestion on other corridors but cause increased air and noise pollution along the route, particularly in Lents and Maywood Park. The report also found that trees and other vegetation near Rocky Butte and on Government Island would be destroyed by freeway construction.[161] In July 1975, Governor Bob Straub and Multnomah County officials announced a general compromise on a six-lane design for I-205 with seven transit stations connected by a busway, pending federal approval.[162] The design, which also reduced the number of full interchanges, was criticized by state legislators from eastern Multnomah County and members of the public at hearings as being inadequate for the area's needs.[163][164] Businessman Fred G. Meyer announced plans in January 1976 to build a Fred Meyer store and motel in the Gateway area as part of a pressure campaign to support the eight-lane design with additional interchanges.[165]

A third design was conceived in late 1975 by ODOT engineers as a compromise between the competing proposals, incorporating a six-lane freeway with seven interchanges alternating between partial and full access, a separated busway, and a bicycle trail.[166][167] The concept was also endorsed by the FHWA, who had initially opposed the busway but later withdrew their complaints following design changes.[34][168] The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners endorsed the third design in February 1976 and was followed by the Portland City Council later in the month, allowing it to be included in the EIS.[169][170][171] Following a positive reception for the revised design at a public hearing, the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commissioners approved construction of I-205 by unanimous votes in June.[172][173] The final EIS was published in July and submitted to the FHWA, which granted its approval in October 1976.[174] A total of 1,448 properties on the I-205 route were acquired by the state government, mostly by the end of 1973 and at a cost of $120 million (equivalent to $493 million in 2019 dollars),[43] and were cleared while awaiting the design changes.[175][176]

Portland and Vancouver construction[edit]

Construction of the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge viewed from the Columbia River

Construction on the 11-mile (18 km) section on the Washington side of the river began in July 1971.[177] Early work on the section was briefly interrupted in northeastern Vancouver following the discovery of a seasonal campsite used by Coast Salish peoples, necessitating an archeological dig.[178] The Washington section cost $35 million (equivalent to $132 million in 2019 dollars)[43] to construct and opened to traffic in two stages without formal ceremonies.[177] The north section from Northeast 83rd Street to I-5 opened on August 22, 1975,[179] followed by the south section from SR 14 to Northeast 83rd Street on December 22, 1976.[180][181] A new shopping center, the Vancouver Mall, was opened in 1977 and was built at the I-205 and SR 500 interchange to attract cross-state traffic.[182]

The first Portland section, extending I-205 by 2.7 miles (4.3 km) from Sunnyside Road to Foster Road in southeastern Portland, began construction in early 1975.[183] It opened to traffic on January 26, 1976, following a month-long delay caused by a shortage of signs and gantries.[184][185] The state government began awarding contracts for the remaining sections in Portland in 1977, with grading and preliminary work beginning that year.[186] The second section, between Foster Road and Powell Boulevard (US 26), opened in February 1981 at a cost of $23 million (equivalent to $55.8 million in 2019 dollars).[43] It comprised one mile (1.6 km) of the freeway and a braided interchange with ramps to Powell Boulevard and Division Street.[187]

The Glenn L. Jackson Bridge over the Columbia River, named for Oregon highway commissioner Glenn Jackson, began construction with a groundbreaking ceremony on August 23, 1977.[188] It was constructed using 592 post-tensioned segmental boxes that were lifted into place, a method that was relatively new to the U.S. at the time,[189] and cost $175 million (equivalent to $400 million in 2019 dollars)[43] to build.[22][190] The bridge was opened to traffic on December 15, 1982, along with a link to the eastern portion of the Banfield Freeway (I-84) and two intermediate interchanges.[191][192] The bicycle and pedestrian path on the bridge, part of a longer system along I-205, was opened the following year.[193] The completion of the Glenn L. Jackson Bridge spurred major industrial and residential development in eastern Vancouver, transforming it into a bedroom community and contributing to urban sprawl.[194][195] The planned growth and its potential encroachment of the Columbia River Gorge led to lobbying for the creation of a national scenic area in 1986 to protect the area from development.[196][197]

The final section of I-205, spanning 6.6 miles (10.6 km) from Division Street to the northern junction with the Banfield Freeway, opened to traffic on March 8, 1983.[198][199] Its completion was delayed to add high fencing near the Rocky Butte Jail to mitigate air and noise pollution until they were transferred to the new Multnomah County Jail in Downtown Portland.[200][201] The old jail was closed in November 1983 and demolished the following year to make way for the remainder of the southern interchange with the Banfield Freeway.[202][203] The Division–Banfield section of I-205 initially opened with four through lanes, which were expanded to six in December 1984.[204] The full southern interchange was opened in 1985, coinciding with the widening of I-84 to accommodate expected traffic from I-205.[205][206] The estimated total cost of I-205 construction in 1983 was $375 million (equivalent to $825 million in 2019 dollars).[43][198]

A MAX Green Line train entering a tunnel under I-205 near Division Street

The parallel transitway on the I-205 corridor was graded but left unfinished, running to the west of the freeway from Foster Road to a tunnel near Division Street, switching to the east side through Gateway and the median from Rocky Butte to Columbia Boulevard.[34][207] While initially envisioned for use by buses, TriMet and Metro pursued a light rail line that would connect with the existing Banfield line (now the MAX Blue Line), opened in 1986 along the I-84 corridor.[208] The reallocation of federal funds was approved by Congress in 1987 and formally submitted to the FHWA by the Oregon state government in 1989.[209] A short section of the transitway was used for the Banfield line, while the northern section was incorporated into the MAX Red Line, which opened in 2001 to serve Portland International Airport.[210] The remainder of the transitway from Gateway to Clackamas was built out as part of the MAX Green Line, which opened in 2009.[211]

Later developments[edit]

Several infill interchanges were added to I-205 as new development on the corridor contributed to worsening traffic congestion on the freeway and adjacent streets, which had increased in Clackamas County by a third between 1983 and 1985.[212] A split interchange with Stark and Washington streets near Mall 205 was expanded to include ramps to Gilsan Street and a frontage road in December 1984.[213] An interchange with Lester Avenue (now Johnson Creek Boulevard) was proposed in the late 1980s to relieve congestion at the nearby Sunnyside Road interchange, which had become the busiest in Oregon by 1989.[214] The new interchange was approved despite opposition from local residents and was completed in November 1990 at a cost of $6.9 million (equivalent to $12.2 million in 2019 dollars).[43][215][216]

The opening of the Glenn L. Jackson Bridge reduced traffic on the older Interstate Bridge from over 116,000 vehicles per weekday in 1982 to 96,000 in 1986; the Jackson Bridge carried 61,000 vehicles in 1986 and has a capacity of 140,000 daily vehicles.[217] By 1996, traffic on the Jackson Bridge had surpassed the Interstate Bridge and I-205 was used the following year as a major detour route during repairs to the older bridge.[218][219] For several months in 2000, the Jackson Bridge underwent weekend closures for replacement of its expansion joints, which had been damaged by increased traffic.[220] The Clackamas River Bridge on I-205 in Gladstone underwent similar expansion joint replacements over an eleven-month period in 2001.[221]

To manage congestion, ODOT installed ramp meters at 11 locations along I-205 from 1999 to 2001 and worked with Metro to study other solutions, which were deemed infeasible due to a lack of funds at the time for substantial construction.[222][223] The Sunnyside Road interchange, which handled 50,000 daily vehicles and remained congested due to growth at the Clackamas Town Center, was rebuilt from 2001 to 2003 at a cost of $28 million (equivalent to $39.4 million in 2019 dollars).[43][224] The project split the interchange between Sunnyside Road and an extended Sunnybrook Boulevard to the south with frontage roads between the two overpasses.[225] A 3-mile (4.8 km) section of the freeway from Tualatin to West Linn was widened to six lanes in 2007 by upgrading temporary lanes constructed for a repaving project at the suggestion of congressperson Darlene Hooley.[226]

The Washington state government funded two improvements to the Mill Plain Boulevard interchange on I-205 in Vancouver through its 2003 and 2005 legislative packages. The first stage, completed in October 2009, added an offramp to Chkalov Drive (named for Soviet pilot Valery Chkalov)[227] to bypass its congested intersection with Mill Plain.[228] The second project added a set of braided ramps to a new interchange with Northeast 18th Street, which opened in July 2016 at a cost of $40.6 million.[229] Both projects were proposed in the 1990s, initially as a split interchange with 18th and 28th streets, as a moratorium on development on Mill Plain was imposed by the City of Vancouver.[230]

The freeway's concurrency with OR 224 near Clackamas was eliminated in 2016 with the opening of the Sunrise Expressway, where the latter was realigned to bypass a section of OR 212.[231][232] ODOT began a major repaving and modernization project on the Oregon section of I-205 in 2017, funded with $30 million from the state's new transportation package.[233] The project, completed in 2020 at a cost of $60 million,[234] included the addition of variable speed limit and variable message signs, new stormwater treatment facilities, and the construction of auxiliary lanes near OR 224 and between Powell Boulevard and I-84.[235][236]

Future plans[edit]

ODOT plans to reconstruct a 7-mile (11 km) section of I-205 in Clackamas County between Stafford Road and OR 213 in the 2020s to add a third through lane in each direction and conduct seismic upgrades to the Abernethy Bridge and Tualatin River Bridge.[237][238] The program is planned to begin construction in early 2022 and last until 2028 and cost approximately $700 million.[239][240] Part of the costs would be funded through variable tolling that could begin as early as 2024 pending federal approval, which drew opposition from the public but was approved by the state government in 2018.[239][241]

The states of Oregon and Washington began planning a replacement for the Interstate Bridge in the 1990s, which later became the Columbia River Crossing program of the 2000s and 2010s. Among the options considered were a north–south light rail line using either I-5 or I-205 to connect Vancouver to the rest of the MAX Light Rail system.[242] The Glenn L. Jackson Bridge had been deemed capable of handling the weight of light rail vehicles, but would require extensive renovations.[243][244] A replacement crossing at the site of the Interstate Bridge with light rail capabilities was later chosen for the program, which was shelved in 2014 following disagreements on funding and the final design of the bridge.[245]

The replacement bridge would have been funded by tolls on I-5 that would increase daily traffic on the Glenn L. Jackson Bridge by 40,000 vehicles, leading to calls to also toll I-205.[246][247] The second iteration of the Columbia River Crossing program, revived in 2019 as the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program, also proposes tolling both I-5 and I-205 to fund the project and also serve as congestion pricing to deter driving.[248][249] Long-term plans from the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the planning body for Clark County, include improvements to several interchanges on I-205 to be made by 2040.[250]

Exit list[edit]

Mileposts and exit numbers carry over from Oregon to Washington.[251]

OregonWashingtonTualatin0.000.00 I-5 – Salem, PortlandSouthern terminus
Clackamas3.165.093Stafford Road – Lake Oswego
West Linn6.4010.30610th Street
8.8214.198 OR 43 – West Linn, Lake OswegoBicycles permitted southbound and prohibited northbound[252]
Willamette River9.1314.69Abernethy Bridge
Oregon City9.2914.959 OR 99E – Downtown Oregon City, Gladstone
10.2416.4810 OR 213 south – Oregon City, MolallaSouthern end of OR 213 concurrency
Gladstone11.0517.781182nd Drive – Gladstone
OR 212 east to OR 224 east – Damascus, Estacada
Northbound signage
12A OR 212 east – DamascusSouthbound signage
12BRoots Road – Johnson City
13 OR 213 north (82nd Avenue) / OR 224 – MilwaukieNorthbound signage; northern end of OR 213 concurrency
OR 224 – Estacada, MilwaukieSouthbound signage
14Sunnybrook Boulevard / Sunnyside Road
16.2426.1416Johnson Creek Boulevard
MultnomahPortland17.8528.7317Foster Road
19 US 26 (Powell Boulevard) / Division Street
20Washington Street / Stark StreetNorthbound signage
21AGlisan Street
Glisan Street / Stark StreetSouthbound signage
21.5934.7521B I-84 west / US 30 west – Portland
22.6136.3922 I-84 east / US 30 east – The Dalles
US 30 Byp. east (Sandy Boulevard)
US 30 Byp. west (Killingsworth Street)
24.6539.6724 Airport Way – Portland AirportSigned northbound as exits 24A (west) and 24B (east)
Columbia River26.5642.74Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge; Oregon–Washington state line
WashingtonClarkVancouver27.2143.7927 SR 14 – Vancouver, CamasBicycles permitted northbound and prohibited southbound[253]
28.3045.5428Mill Plain BoulevardSigned northbound as exits 28A (east) and 28B (west)
28CNortheast 112th AvenueNorthbound exit only
29.3147.1729Northeast 18th StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
30.9749.8430ANortheast Gher Road / Northeast 112th AvenueSouthbound exit is via exit 30
30 SR 500 – Vancouver City CenterSigned northbound as exits 30B (east) and 30C (west)
31.0850.02Vancouver Mall (Fourth Plain Boulevard)No northbound exit
33.0253.1432Padden Parkway / Northeast Andresen Road – Battle Ground
36.7259.1036Northeast 134th Street – WSU Vancouver
37.1359.75 I-5 north – SeattleNorthern terminus; northbound exit and southbound entrance
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


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  152. ^ "Hearing Slated On I-205 Project". The Oregon Journal. August 6, 1970. p. 2.
  153. ^ "Council Asks I-205 Changes". The Oregon Journal. September 25, 1970. p. 12.
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  155. ^ "Report says I-205 wouldn't do major environmental harm". The Oregonian. Associated Press. November 18, 1972. p. 31.
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External links[edit]

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