(Exit 9 to Exit 12 [Southbound 12A]; MP 9.29-12.67, 3.38 miles)
(Exit 10 to Exit 13; MP 10.24-13.11, 2.87 miles)
(Exit 12 Northbound/12A Southbound to Exit 13; MP 12.67-13.11, 0.44 miles)
Interstate 205, known as the East Portland Freeway in Oregon and the East Vancouver Bypass in Washington, became part of the Interstate family with the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956. This established the fact that an eastside bypass around the Portland/Vancouver metro area was needed for the future. This was indeed visionary as Interstate 5 wasn't even completed in Oregon for another 10 years (and in Washington for another 25 years).
Much of what I-205 crosses near its southern terminus is farmland, forest, and the occasional city, the two main ones being West Linn and Oregon City. In order to follow a route similar to I-205 before the freeway was built, one would've taken OR-212 (the Clackamas-Boring Highway #174) past Oregon City, where OR-213 (Cascade Highway North #160) would take over until you reached the Portland Airport. OR-212 followed present-day Tualatin-Nyberg road out of Tualatin, only to be shuttled off onto Borland Rd. through Wanker's Corner, across the narrow Oregon City bridge, then following local roads up to where it branches off today. With the completion of I-205, however, OR-212's western terminus was cut way back to near Milwaukie at Exit 12/12AB.
With a kiss for good luck (dramatization, may not have happened), Interstate 205 started to be built between Park Place and 82nd Ave. (modern-day Exits 10 and 13 respectively). As there was no direct connection to I-5 yet (and quite possibly no I-5 yet in that area), the road was marked as a duplexed OR-212 and OR-213. After construction of 10 additional miles of I-205 were completed in 1970 from I-5 in Tualatin to OR-213 at Park Place, the freeway all became I-205 territory. Interestingly enough, there's a nub of a freeway off of Exit 13 northbound (OR-213 North, 82nd Ave.) with one exit ramp to OR-224. I have reason to believe that this is the original end of the first segment of I-205 when it was still being built in the 60s and 70s.
Now, many a roadgeek may be wondering, why didn't ODOT just call it Oregon State Route 205 along the corridor already completed? Then again, many a roadgeek would already know why it wouldn't be so. First of all, that wasn't common practice back in the 60s when the Interstate highways system was in its infancy. Even though sections of freeway built were not always connected with each other, all the disjointed sections of the freeway were usually given the Interstate designation (e.g. I-5). Second of all, even if it were common practice, ODOT couldn't do it because there's already an OR-205 out in central-eastern Oregon that runs from Burns to some ranch south of Frenchglen; it comes nowhere near I-5. Oregon usually doesn't double up on routes, but does so in this case; the other is I-82/OR-82. But enough riff-raff, back to I-205.
The drive to complete I-205 across four counties and two states barrelled forward as it was completed to Foster Road (Exit 17) in the mid-1970s and Powell Blvd. (Exit 19) in 1980. Then the money started to dwindle. ODOT was fortunate enough to get the entire stretch of I-205 from Tualatin to the Washington border (including the Glenn Jackson Bridge across the Columbia and Government Island) done by 1982, but only 4 lanes of the planned 6 were completed; those wouldn't be done until 1986 along with interchanges at Stark and Glisan (Exits 20 and 21A). Even I-84 didn't have full access yet. Only I-84 West to I-205 North and I-205 South to I-84 West were completed, and the rest wouldn't be added until 1986. Furthermore, a section by the Rocky Butte Jail wouldn't open pending the relocation of prisoners and the removal of the prison.
Before I continue, I managed to find a nice article remembering the fanfare surrounding the opening of the Glenn Jackson Bridge on December 15th, 1982 with a 20th year anniversary retrospective. It is from The Columbian, a paper out of Vancouver Washington. I suggest you take a look.
What you may be wondering is, why is there grassy land between I-205 and the raised land that overpasses are connected to? That grass patch is the only remnants of an attempt to create a system of I-205 bus lanes. These lanes would've paralleled I-205 like frontage roads or even been HOV-like lanes on the highway. Unfortunately, there were no funds to make this public transportation idea happen. Some roads pass over empty fields before hitting I-205. I've also seen areas that look like potential "offramps" (an Exit 18 perhaps??) on Southbound I-205...I may have to go investigate further.
Speaking of investigating further, there was once a plan to create a West Side Freeway that pretty much mirrors I-205's eastern route. It would start near North Wilsonville, travel through sub-rural Washington County, eventually intersecting US-26 and US-30 before also crossing the Columbia and end near Ridgefield, Washington. Recent growth and need for arteries in Washington County (especially in the Hillsboro area) have resurrected this plan. I don't know much about it in terms of connecting it to the current I-205 termini, creating a 205 beltway (which would be the only I-5 beltway in existence), I do know it was cancelled for environmental reasons, just like it's getting the snub now. I personally feel a 205 beltway would be pretty cool and would spur much-needed growth to Oregon. However, it would create a lot of NIMBY anxiety and potentially damage forest and wetlands (primarily in Clark County, Washington). The signs are there (I-205 has beltway-style numbering already, plus the I-5/I-205 interchange looks incomplete to me), but time will tell.
(In the meantime, to see what the I-205 Beltway (West Side Freeway) might've or could possibly look like, see my What I'd Like To See: West-side I-205 page.)
Even though Portland is very anti-freeway, there is a chance that I-205 could be widened from 4 lanes to 6. Darlene Hooley, Oregon's 5th district Congresswoman, has suggested that the temporary lanes used for a construction project (presumably the Sunnybrook Interchange project) be kept and upgraded once the project is completed. In a February 20th, 2003 interview (from Portland's KGW-TV), she was quoted as saying, "As I sit in traffic, I see Oregon's economy idling on that road right along side of me." I would happen to agree with her, especially with the number of people moving to the Portland area contrasted with the unemployment rate of Oregon, which is the worst or second-worst in the lower 48. She's in my congressional district, and I voted for her, so I feel she's doing a bang-up job. But I digress. Back to I-205.
Also, in a ceremony sometime in November of 2000, the portion of I-205 from I-5 to I-284 was designated the Veterans Memorial Freeway. Currently there are two brown "Veteran's Memorial Freeway" signs erected, one between I-5 and Stafford Rd. on I-205 northbound, and the other just south of I-84 on I-205 southbound; each is accompanied with a reassurance shield.
Because Interstate 205 connects both Oregon and Washington, and because the mile markers along the route are continuous (i.e. they don't restart at mile 0 in Washington), I decided to do Oregon and Washington for the exit list.
EXIT (1): This exit is unnumbered, as it is an Interstate highway with a terminus at another Interstate highway in the state of Oregon. It's not a split; the I-5 Northbound ramp exits off of I-205 South. It even has an exit gore sign with no number. C'mon, ODOT, show this exit some respect and give it a number like it deserves...an Exit 1 sign would really look nice up there. Also, it's interesting to note that Exit (1) happens barely after milepost 1 southbound, but even the longest ramp (dumping traffic to I-5 South) probably isn't a mile. Were there plans to make I-205 go to Boones Ferry Rd not too far off? Who knows?!?
FOLLOW-UP: Some time after writing this, I delved into the ODOT Highway Inventory Summary and apparently there's some sort of milepost resyncronization around milepost 1. This probably occurred as a result of building one part of I-205 before connecting it to I-5 or using a slightly shorter routing than originally desired. Since the resyncronization is only 0.42 miles (from 0.86 to 1.28 miles on I-205), ODOT could easily re-space the mileposts without having to completely renumber the exits. Because I-205 is a dual-state highway, WSDOT would have to be on the bandwagon as well.
EXIT 3: When you exit onto Stafford Rd., take a left (from northbound I-205) or right (from southbound I-205) and keep going until you hit the flashing red light. Welcome to Wanker's Corner! And yes, it's pronounced like the British insult: 'wæng-kurz. It's not even on the maps, mainly becuase there's like two stores and two fields or whatever, but still, it's there. Incidently, you're also at the intersection of Stafford Rd. and the old OR-212. Furthermore, the flashing red light backs up traffic for a half a mile in each direction, so Clackamas County is possibly putting in a roundabout to help alleviate traffic congestion.
BETWEEN MILES 7 AND 8: If you're heading northbound on I-205, take a pit stop at the viewpoint. You can learn about the history of Willamette Falls and the end of the Oregon Trail. Plus, this viewpoint provides a nice area for you to take a little rest before continuing on your way. Unfortunately, if you're traveling southbound, you don't have the opportunity to get off the highway and rest, or at least you don't anymore. There used to be a rest area just after milepost 8 all the way up until the mid-to-late 1990s, but apparently it's been closed down, meaning that you'll have to travel an extra 13 miles before pulling into another rest area, an I-5 one just south of Wilsonville. It was revealed in a story in an Oregonian story about a West Linn police dog that the rest area was shut down in 1995 because of massive amounts of drug trafficking occurring there.
EXIT 8: Pull off here to cross a very narrow bridge to provide a little historical trip to Oregon City. This bridge carries the end portion of OR-43 and a decommissioned portion of OR-212. Exit 8 southbound is missing its gore sign. Before/after Exit 8 (depending on direction), I-205 jogs through a canyon with tiny waterfalls on the southbound side of the highway; a touch of scenery in a mostly suburban part of the freeway.
EXIT 9: This is where I-205 crosses the former US-99E (now OR-99E) and is joined by part of the decommissioned OR-212.