Destination Mt. Hood
Visitors come to Mt. Hood from around the world to enjoy the beauty of our mountains and forest. The mountain is a popular year-round destination for Oregon and Washington residents for its many recreation opportunities – hiking, camping, birding, cycling, golfing, swimming and boating, skiing and snow play. Mt Hood is an economic driver in the state; there are between two and five million visitors annually to the Mt. Hood National Forest. Vibrant rural communities welcome travelers and residents along the Mt. Hood Highway in both Clackamas and Hood River counties.
Stunning views greet the traveler along the Mt. Hood Highway (US 26-OR 35), a designated National Scenic Byway. The road provides access to an abundance of natural, cultural and historic resources. The highway provides access to recreational area and rural communities in the northern portion of the Mt. Hood National Forest. The highway is an important freight route for local as well as statewide trucking, and also serves as a primary connection between Portland Metro, Central Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge. Visitors, residents and employees primarily travel to the mountain by car, although there is some private and public transit serving the area.
Safety and Travel Options
Visitors' diverse travel destinations and purposes create challenges for the Mt. Hood Highway. Through traffic and recreation-destination travel results in heavy congestion during peak times, particularly winter and summer weekends. The Mt Hood Highway east of the City of Sandy and south of the City of Hood River is an ODOT-designated Safety Corridor due to its relatively high volume of crashes—most occurring in winter during inclement weather. Congestion is exacerbated by poor weather conditions and safety incidents.
ODOT has been working with agency and community partners to increase education and enforcement along the Mt. Hood Highway Safety Corridor. ODOT has focused transportation improvement funding on safety and preservation projects on US 26 and OR 35. Approximately $27 million in safety and preservation improvements on the Mt. Hood Highway are currently being designed for the corridor, with construction set to begin during the next two years. In addition, previous planning efforts identified the provision of travel options (transit, intelligent transportation systems, carpooling, traveler information, etc.) as a key way to enhance traveler access and reduce peak travel demand. ODOT has implemented ITS improvements such as variable message signs to help improve driver awareness and safety. A $4.9 million ITS enhancement project for US26 and OR 35 is programmed for construction in 2014.
Exploring solutions - The Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan (MHMTP)
ODOT, in partnership with Mt Hood National Forest, Clackamas County, Hood River
County and FHWA-Western Federal Lands Highway Division, is working on a plan to improve safety and enhance travel options. The Mt Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan (MHMTP) is an outcome of the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which called for feasibility analysis of several kinds in the Mt Hood National Forest.
Previous planning efforts, such as Mt Hood National Forest Services’s Transit Options and Transportation Demand Management Study (2012) identified travel options such as increased transit, intelligent transportation systems, carpooling, “one stop” traveler information, cell coverage expansion, and on-going transit-recreation provider coordination as key ways to enhance traveler access and help reduce congestion. The study’s recommended Pilot Program includes low-cost actions that may be taken within five years.
The MHMTP builds on the Pilot Program recommendations to consider more ambitious projects and programs and their feasibility for implementation within 15 years. The planning process focuses on short-, mid- and long-term strategies to increase travel options and improve safety. Travel options may include various types of transit and transportation demand management programs that have the potential to improve the travel experience and reduce congestion along the Mt. Hood Highway corridor. The project also evaluates high-crash locations and consider additional highway safety project needs for all users (vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians).
The expected outcome of the MHMTP project is a set of recommended programs and projects, along with an implementation/action and funding strategy. In Phase 1 the team will identify “what it would take” to implement a range of projects. Some options will be screened out based on feasibility and support for implementation, funding and other factors. In Phase 2, the most promising options will be evaluated in greater depth and prioritized. Phase 2 will result in a plan that outlines the conceptual design, operation, maintenance and cost of the options, and identifies mechanisms for funding, implementation and long-term project management.
Project Charge and Core Values
The project partners will produce a focused plan that has implementable projects. The Project Leadership Group, comprised of members from the Oregon Department of Transportation, US Forest Service, Clackamas County and Hood River County, created a Project Charge that defines the Mt Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan's goals and scope. Based on the Project Charge, a set of Core Values was created, against which the most promising project ideas are screened.
Click here to see the Project Charge.
Click here to see the Project Core Values.
The Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan is scheduled to be completed in late 2013 or early 2014.
The MHMTP study area is the Mt. Hood Highway (US 26 to OR 35) corridor from Sandy to Hood River through the Zig Zag and Hood River Ranger Districts in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Click here or on the the image below to see a larger, printable version of the MHMTP study area:
Background Studies and Documents
The MHMTP will draw and expand on previous safety analyses and planning efforts that have focused on the Mt. Hood corridor. Here's a list of key studies and plans that are be using as the basis for further study:
* Clackamas County Transportation System Plan
* Hood River County Transportation System Plan
* Roadside Safety Audit -- Timberline to Nottingham
* Roadside Safety Audit -- Camp Creek to Timberline
* Transportation Solutions (Interagency Transportation Assistance Group) -- Mt. Hood National Forest (2009)
* Transit Options and Transportation Demand Management Study -- Mt. Hood National Forest (2012)
Projects in the Mt Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan
The goal of the Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan is to develop a set of recommended programs and projects, along with an implementation/action and funding strategy, that will increase safety and travel options along the Mt. Hood corridor (US 26/OR 35 between Sandy and Hood River). The MHMTP team has looked at more than a hundred projects from approved local and regional transportation plans, studies and roadway safety audits. During the past months, with input from regional stakeholders, partner agencies and the public, the options were narrowed to a final list of 38 projects that meet the goals of the MHMTP.
Click here to see a list of the projects that the Project Leadership Group confirmed on Sept. 27 would be included in the MHMTP.
Click here to see a longer list of projects that was narrowed by the project team based on their strength in meeting the plan's core values.
Later in fall 2013, the Project Leadership Group will choose a small set of the list of projects in the MHMTP for early implementation during the next few years. These projects, which will go into the Implementation Plan section of the MHMTP, will likely have identified funding (or a path to funding), a project champion and a detailed schedule.
Survey #2 - August 9-31
The plan's Project Leadership Group will ultimately decide which projects on the draft list are included in the Mt Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. A smaller subset of the list – those projects with champions and identified funding that can be implemented within the next few years – will form the Implementation Plan component of the MHMTP. The remainder of the list – those that are not included in the Implementation Plan – will remain in the primary Plan as projects of importance, and will be revisited every 3-5 years to re-evaluate implementation readiness.
The Project Leadership Group wanted to hear from stakeholders before deciding:
1. that these 40 projects are the right ones for the Plan, and
2. which smaller set of the 40 should be implemented first,
The survey was available August 9-31. A summary of the survey results will be posted on this project website during the next few weeks.
An interactive map that shows projects on the draft staff recommended project list is available by clicking on the link below (it may take a minute or so to appear):
Click here to see a summary of Survey #2 results.
Survey #1 - May 10-31
In May, the project team undertook a survey to gauge the public's travel patterns and solicit general project ideas for the Mt. Hood Highway corridor (US 26/OR 35). Approximately 850 people responsed to the survey.
Click here to see a summary of survey responses from Survey #1.
A Project Management Team (PMT) comprised of partner agencies and the consultant team is managing the day to day activities of the MHMTP project. The partner agencies are: Clackamas County, Hood River County, US Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration-Western Federal Lands Highway Division. A Technical Working Group (TWG) will review baseline conditions and contribute their expertise to evaluate the technical feasibility of potential projects. The TWG will have two sub-committees: safety and travel options.
The Project Leadership Group (PLG), consisting of decision-makers from the Partner agencies, will consider technical and stakeholder input. At the close of Phase 1, the PLG will determine which projects and programs have sufficient support and feasibility to warrant further exploration in Phase 2. To view a graphic of the MHMTP decision-making process, click here.
The four members of the PLG are:
-- Jason Tell, ODOT Region 1 Manager
-- Lisa Northrop, US Forest Service - Acting Mt Hood National Forest Supervisor
-- Karen Joplin, Hood River County Commissioner
-- Jim Bernard, Clackamas County Commissioner
The PLG held its third meeting on Friday, Sept. 27, from 1 pm - 3 pm, at ODOT Region 1 headquarters. Click here for the meeting information packet (pdf). The meeting notes will be posted here once they are finalized.
The PLG will hold its fourth and final meeting in December. Please check back here for details on the meeting, which will be scheduled soon.
PLG Meeting #1: Dec. 3, 2012
PLG Meeting #2: July 19, 2013
The Project Team is seeking stakeholder input during all phases of plan development. Input will be received through Web-based surveys, email/mail correspondence, small group interviews, project information presentations and feedback from community gatherings. If your group would like a project team member to give a briefing, please contact Mike Mason or Kimberly Dinwiddie (see below for contact information). In addition, Project Leadership Group meeting times and locations will be posted on the project Web site and are open to the public.
Based on guidance outlined in the Federal 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Bill and from the Oregon Transportation Commission, a partnership between ODOT, the US Forest Service-Mt. Hood National Forest, Clackamas County and Hood River County has been created to work in cooperation with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) - Western Federal Lands Highway Division to produce the MHMTP.
- Watch this Web site for opportunities to participate in surveys and meetings
- Join our project email list to receive regular updates by emailing the contact link below
- Send us your comments or questions
Media inquiries should be directed to:
Mike Mason, ODOT Planning, Michael.W.Mason@odot.state.or.us, or 503.731.8246
Kimberly Dinwiddie, ODOT Community Affairs, Kimberly.Dinwiddie@odot.state.or.us, or 503.731.8281
* ¿Habla ustéd español? Podemos proveer la información en esta publicación en español. Para recibir la información en español, por favor llamé al (503) 731-8231.