E Burnside St. (Portland)
(within Portland from NE/SE 12th Ave. to SE Gilham Ave.)
SE Gilham Ave. (Portland)
(within Portland from E Burnside St. to SE Thorburn St.)
SE Thorburn St. (Portland)
(within Portland from SE Gilham Ave. to SE Stark St.)
SE Stark St. (Portland, Gresham, Multnomah County)
(SE Thorburn St. in Portland to Historic Columbia River Hwy. near Troutdale)
US-30 Alternate was created at some point in the 1930's, presumably to be a more direct route between Portland and the original Columbia River Highway, running through Gresham and bypassing the town of Troutdale. However, the original Columbia River Highway was quicky becoming outdated and needed to be build wider and closer to the river. The section between Troutdale and Dodson was bypassed in 1950 by the current routing of Interstate 84, moving US-30 off of the original Columbia River Highway. It was at this point when US-30 Alternate also ceased to exist, mainly because it no longer connected to US-30 at its eastern end. The western end lost its US-30 status in 1957.
Some questions still remain about this highway. It is unclear if it was ever under Oregon highway maintenance. Some sites, such as Mike Wiley's Oregon Highways (archived here), claim that it was Base Line Highway #121 (as Stark St. was called Base Line Rd. in the 1940's), but the documents I have place highway #121 along Lombard St., which is where US-30 Bypass was running. So there is a distinct possibility that it could've been city and county maintained only. I also wanted to know for sure when it was created and decommissioned, as US Highways pegs it at 1936-1950, and also if any photos or straight line charts exist. I fired off an e-mail to ODOT on April 21st, 2007. Here is the full text:
To Whom It May Concern:
I was looking over an old highway map of Oregon and I noticed an Alternate US 30 running through Portland. It was a fairly old map from 1941. I am interested in researching this highway and have a few questions concerning it.
* When was it first designated and when was this designation removed?
* Was it ever assigned an internal state highway number (e.g. Pacific Highway #1)? If so, what was that designation and when was it applied and removed?
* What was the official legislative designation of the highway (the text of the description)?
* What was the official length of the highway?
* Do any photos in the ODOT archives exist of a shield assembly or signage of Alternate US 30? If so, may I have a digital copy of this photo?
* Do any straight line charts or road inventory documents exist of Alternate US 30 or its respective state highway?
* I completely understand if ODOT is unable to answer any or all of these questions. If ODOT cannot answer these questions, whom should I contact or where should I look to research this matter further?
I would appreciate a response by e-mail only. Thank you for your time.
After some back-and-forth conversation, I received a final response on May 3rd. Unfortunately, most of those questions don't have an answer at this point because the information was not available.
However, I did learn some information regarding the original Columbia River Highway and its relation to US-30 Alternate. Just like with the construction of I-82 and the desire of the Tri-Cities to have the Interstate routed through or close to their town, there was a competition between Troutdale and Gresham to have the Columbia River Highway enter their town when the highway was being build in the 1910's. The e-mail explains:
The original alignment for the Columbia River Highway, which is documented in a 1924 Oregon State Highway Department milepost data log, shows the route leaving the intersection of SW Broadway and Washington in downtown Portland (0.0 mile post). Then it headed east along East Burnside to 39th Ave., then south along SE 39th Ave. to SE Stark St. From there, it headed east along Stark St. to the Sandy River. (Stark Street is on the baseline from the Willamette Stone and the N-S Willamette Meridian.)
This was the first alignment for the CRH. The very last part, leading down to the Sandy River (Stark Street) Bridge was very circuitous and followed county roads. By 1917, a new alignment for the "Base Line Road Extension" consisted of tangents and gradual curves and grades that carried it down to the river's edge to the bridge. Before the extension could be completed, however, a route from Troutdale was completed along the east bank of the Sandy River. It crossed the Sandy downstream on the Troutdale Bridge and followed the east bank past where the Stark Street Bridge crossed the Sandy. The "Sandy cut-off" became the preferred route, even after the Stark Street/Baseline Road Extension was opened. In part this was a competition between Troutdale, which favored the Sandy cut-off, and Gresham, which favored the Baseline Road Extension. Both eyed the economic impacts of becoming the gateway to the Columbia River Highway in the Columbia River Gorge.
The Sandy cut-off may have popularized the East Burnside-Sandy Boulevard route to the Columbia River Gorge over the East Burnside-Stark Street route. It could have contributed to the Stark Street route, regardless of whether it used 39th Ave. or Gilham and Thorburn, becoming the "Alternate" route for US 30.
From this information it is inferred that US-30 Alternate was created as a compromise for Gresham when US-30 was routed along the Columbia River Highway through Troutdale. Since a 1932 AASHO policy stated that Alternate routes could be created without AASHO approval as long as the Alternate route connected to the mainline at both ends, the earliest that US-30 Alternate could have existed is 1932. I'm still inclined to say that the highway was routed along county roads, especially based on the e-mail above. I still have some other people I need to contact to gain some more information on this highway, though, so this may not be the final chapter.
On a side note, I asked for a scan of the 1924 OSHD milepost data log that was mentioned in the e-mail. It is unclear if US-30 was ever routed along it, but my guess is that it was not. Still, it's an interesting piece of history.
In 1948, US-30 Alternate can be seen running along Burnside St. and Stark St. (then called Base Line Rd.) between Portland and Troutdale. US-30 is on its old alignment through the Columbia Gorge. (© 1948 Gousha)
By 1951, US-30 Alternate was taken off of Portland and Multnomah County roads. You can also see US-30 has been moved to its current alignment east of Troutdale. (© 1951 Gousha)
It is important to note that all map segments are copyrighted by their respective owners, and that these map segments are used for educational and historical purposes only.