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NW Cornell Road tunnels reopen Friday evening

The segment of Cornell Road with the tunnels has been closed since Aug. 23 for essential repairs, cutting off one of just a few routes through Portland's West Hills.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Northwest Cornell Road tunnels and the surrounding segments of the road will fully reopen to traffic starting at 6 p.m. Friday, according to a news release from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

The road has been closed between Northwest 30th and 53rd Avenues since Aug. 23 while crews performed essential repairs to the two tunnels, cutting off one of only a few routes over Portland's West Hills.

The tunnels handled roughly 7,000 vehicle trips per day before the pandemic, according to PBOT.

RELATED: PBOT to update Northwest Cornell Road reopening date in coming weeks

The two tunnels were built by the Works Progress Administration in 1940 and 1941. Inspectors discovered a large crack near the crown of the western tunnel in 2019, necessitating a closure for repairs to prevent structural failure.

Credit: PBOT
The Cornell tunnels had to be closed for repairs after cracks were discovered in the roof of one of them.

The prolonged total closure was necessary because of the cramped tunnel environment, according to PBOT's news release. The tunnels were too narrow to accommodate traffic passing by the construction crews.

RELATED: Roads throughout the West Hills could be closed for several more days, according to PBOT

Crews removed the old lining of both tunnels via hydro-blasting and installed new lining with rebar-reinforced concrete.

The project also included installing LED lighting on both tunnels and cleaning off the stone masonry at the tunnel portals and removing ivy.

The one remaining step is to calibrate the lights in the tunnels, which crews will do later this summer. That work may cause traffic delays, PBOT said, but will not require any tunnel closures.

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