Killing the golden goose: Tualatin-Sherwood Rogers Rd. project

By William MacKenzie

When a gargantuan cruise ship pulled into port at the idyllic village of Stavanger on Norway’s west coast, overwhelming the quaint setting, obliterating its scenic beauty and destroying its allure, Norwegian film director Odveig Klyve captured the impact in a stunning video.


‘The liners that pull into the harbor now are so tall and broad that they block out views entirely, fundamentally changing Stavanger’s atmosphere,” Rachel Riederer  wrote recently in The New Yorker. “It takes away the sun,” Klyve told Riederer.  “It takes away the air. It’s claustrophobic.” And with the increased commerce has come noise and pollution. Klyve said that some of her harborside neighbors now have to wash their white-painted houses, which go gray because of the smog.”

Oregonians who live, drive and work in the vicinity of the Tualatin-Sherwood Highway and Roy Rogers Rd. know the feeling.

Prosperity and growth have come with a cost, changing a relatively calm and easy to navigate corridor into a noisy, exhaust-filled roadway resembling a Los Angeles freeway.

Go way back to the mid-1800s and the Tualatin end of the to-be-built highway consisted of little more than a blacksmith shop, boarding house, general store, and saloon. In 1906, the Oregon Electric Railroad’s Portland-Salem line came to town and in 1913 the City of Tualatin was incorporated.

The early occupiers of what was to become Sherwood were the Tualatin Indians. In the mid-1800s, they encountered wagon trains and farmers who built their homes with local logs that came from forests that covered the area. Incorporated as the town of Sherwood in 1893, by 1911 its city limits were one square mile and it had reached a population of 350.

But the area’s appeal drew more residents and businesses. Since 1990, Tualatin’s population has almost doubled and Sherwood’s has exploded seven times over. Thousands of vehicles now barrel along Tualatin-Sherwood and Roy Rogers roads every morning and thousands more every night.

In 2020, work began on a project to expand traffic capacity and improve safety on the Tualatin-Sherwood Highway and Roy Rogers Rd., bringing what was once a rural road connecting two backwater towns into the 21st century, according to its proponents.

But relief will be short-lived. Following the principle of induced demand, increased road capacity may reduce congestion at first, but that then leads to more people opting to travel and the return of congestion. When the “improvements” are finished, that will spur even more residential and business construction in the corridor and the traffic and grueling transit chaos will increase again with a vengeance. In other words, if you build it, people will come.

One of the most talked about examples of this is the Katy Freeway in Houston, Texas. Part of a massive freeway expansion plan meant to alleviate traffic congestion, and built at a cost of $2.8 billion, it has an astounding 26 lanes at its widest point. But analysts examining reams of data have found that traffic actually worsened after widening the freeway.

And not just vehicle drivers pay the price of roadway expansion. The owners of this home on Lavender Terrace in Sherwood must know that.


Once comfortably separated from the highway, they are now hemmed in by a concrete sound barrier alongside the road, as are many other adjacent homes along the route.


It won’t be long before people despair of living and doing business in the once appealing Tualatin-Sherwood corridor.

Ah, progress.