Oregon Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

Oregon’s road network is very thin outside the Willamette Valley and Portland area. However, most of the traffic is concentrated in the aforementioned areas, outside the state roads are light to very light, especially southeastern Oregon has a very thin road network through a lonely area with little traffic.

Road management

The state highway authority is the Oregon Department of Transportation, abbreviated as ODOT. There are other states that also use that abbreviation, but because of the distance from those states (Ohio, Oklahoma) this does not cause any confusion. The current ODOT was founded in 1969, but was preceded by the Oregon State Highway Department, which was created way back in 1913 and was one of the first state highway departments in the United States. ODOT manages 12,919 miles of road (2011) and approximately 2,800 bridges, approximately one-third of the total number of bridges in Oregon, with the remainder under county and municipal management. Bridges have received special attention from ODOT due to the fact that Oregon is a seismically active area and half of the bridges were built before 1970, when no seismic requirements were imposed on bridges. Oregon has the most stringent design requirements for seismicity.

  • Bittranslators: State overview of Oregon, including geography, economy, population and history as well as introduction to major cities of Oregon.

Interstate Highways

There are only two longer stretches of highway, Interstate 5, which forms a north-south route through the interior of western Oregon, and Interstate 84, which serves as an east-west route through the north of the state. A very large part of the state is therefore not served by Interstate Highways. For intra-state traffic, I-5 is by far the most important highway, connecting almost all major cities in the state. Interstate 82 also runs a short distance in northeast Oregon.

Portland has two additional Interstate Highways, Interstate 205 as an eastern bypass of Portland and Interstate 405 as an alternate route around downtown. Interstate 105 is still in Eugene.

  • Deluxesurveillance: Nickname of Oregon as The Beaver State. Also covers geography, history, economy, politics and administration of the state.

US Highways

The Astoria-Megler Bridge ( US 101 ) over the mouth of the Columbia River.

Several US Highways cross Oregon. However, the historic US 99 has been replaced by I-5. US 20 and US 26 form east-west routes through the middle of the state, from the Pacific coast to Vale in the far east of the state, where both routes converge and then run to Idaho. US 30 follows the Columbia River, but is almost completely double-numbered east of Portland with I-84.

US 95 runs through the extreme southeast of the state, a lonely route from Nevada to Idaho through the High Desert. US 97 is the main north-south route of eastern Oregon and runs parallel to the Cascades, via Bend, the main city of eastern Oregon, where it has been developed as a semi-freeway. The US 101 is the famous coastal route and is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the United States. Other US Highways are quite short, with the exception of US 395, which forms a north-south route through the east of the state, but serves few important places.

State highways

State highways are referred to as a ‘route’ and are often abbreviated in writing as ‘OR XX’. They often fulfill a secondary function, but due to the thin road network in the east, they often also have an interregional importance, despite the low traffic volumes. A few state highways have been developed as freeways, most prominently State Route 217 in Portland and State Route 126 and State Route 569 in Eugene.

There are two different numbering systems for state highways in Oregon. The system known to the public is signposted and displayed on maps and in press releases. However, the Oregon Department of Transportation also has an administrative numbering system that is completely different from the signposted route numbering. In addition, many state highways also have official names, which are known to the public to varying degrees.

Toll roads

There are no general toll roads in Oregon, but tolls are collected on two bridges over the Columbia River well east of Portland. These are under private management.

Maximum speed

In 2016, the speed limit in central and eastern Oregon was increased.

Oregon has long been known for having the lowest speed limits in the western United States. For a long time, the speed limit was only 65 mph on rural freeways and often lower in urban areas. In contrast, neighboring states typically allowed 70-75 mph, later 80 mph, making Oregon the state with the lowest speed limits west of the Mississippi. In 2016, the speed limit in eastern Oregon was increased to 70 mph. However, most traffic is handled on I-5 where the speed limit is 65 mph or lower. In southern Oregon, I-5 has several routes with a speed limit below 65 mph due to its twisty trajectory and outdated design requirements. In 2016 are on Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon introduced the first variable speed limits. The speed limit is subject to change based on weather conditions.

Traffic policy

Oregon is known nationally for left-wing and green politics. However, the state is politically the most polarized state in the country, with both the most progressive and most conservative voters. Progressive politics, however, prevail in Oregon. This is also reflected in the traffic policy. Oregon has long been the state with the lowest speed limits in the western United States. And the Portland area in particular is very negative about road capacity expansions. Although much has been invested in bicycle and public transportation, Portland’s congestion has exploded since the 1980s, with the Travel Time Index in 1982 the 39th highest in the United States, in 2012 it was the 5th highest in the country. The region is much more congested than other US cities of this size. Portland has allocated 50% of its transportation budget to public transportation through 2035, despite public transportation accounting for only 5% of all commuter traffic.


The first “roads” in Oregon were trails used by migrants with wagons. In 1851 the Territorial Road Act was passed, in which the roads were signposted and had to be at least 18 meters wide. These were beaten roads, but roads not yet improved. In fact, they were dirt roads without any works of art. Some roads existed mainly on paper and not in reality. There were also a number of military wagon roads in Oregon, mostly running from east to west. The longest ran from the Idaho border to The Dalles, Albany, and Eugene. In addition, there were also ‘military roads’ of which little is known about how they were built and maintained, often it was said that they became a ‘military road’ when a military convoy passed.that were better maintained. These were sometimes ‘plank roads’, made with planks, but in the humid climate of western Oregon they quickly rot. Most toll roads ceased to exist in the early 20th century.

Market Roads

Between 1919 and 1932 there was a network of Market Roads, mainly in the Willamette Valley, linking agricultural areas to the towns and thus important for farmers to get their produce to market. These types of roads only exist in Texas today as dedicated roads, the Farm to Market Road. In 1930 the network was about 10,000 kilometers, of which only about 400 kilometers was asphalted. Most Market Roads were later handed over to the counties or are now secondary routes within the system of state highways.

State Highways

In 1913, the State Highway Commission was established, and the first $1,000 road building bonds were issued in Jackson County. As of that year, $1.7 million was available for roads. The system of state highways was established in 1917, including road numbering and road designation. In 1917, there were 36 state highways, numbered 1 through 36. In 1919, Oregon was the first state in the United States to introduce a fuel tax.

In 1920, some of the state highways in northwest Oregon were paved, the longest paved road ran along the Columbia River, from Astoria via Portland to Hood River, not far from The Dalles (later US 30 ). Also, the road from Portland to Eugene was largely paved, via a western route through the Willamette Valley. The eastern route via Salem was also largely asphalted. In southern Oregon, the road from the California border south of Ashland to Grants Pass was already paved. In 1920 Oregon had 1,000 miles of paved road.

The Pacific Coast Highway ( US 101 ) was built between 1914 and 1932. In eastern Oregon there were virtually no paved roads in the early 1920s. Some routes were a gravel road but most of it was still an unimproved dirt road. In the early 1920s, the priority went entirely to asphalting the north-south route through the interior of what is now the I-5 corridor. This route was already completely asphalted in 1922. In the mid-1920s, priority was given to surfacing US 30, initially as a gravel road with an oil layer to make the road less dusty. By the time the US Highways were introduced in 1926, this route had already been developed as an oiled road. By 1928, US 97 was added as an oiled road from Klamath Falls to The Dalles, parallel to the Cascades. The asphalt network of roads has been greatly expanded, especially in the 1930s, in 1940 Oregon already had approximately 8,000 kilometers of paved roads.

Interstate Highways

The double-deck Fremont Bridge ( I-405 ) in Portland.

In 1956, the system of Interstate Highways was created, bringing a lot of federal money to the states for the construction of a nationwide network of freeways.. Oregon had not planned a particularly large network, only I-5 and I-84 were planned as main routes, with I-84 originally numbered I-80N. I-82 was not added as an Interstate Highway until the 1980s. I-5 was rapidly built through Oregon in the 1960s, the highway was completed in 1966. However, the oldest highway is I-84, the original TH Banfield Expressway was built for the Interstate era and opened to traffic in Portland in 1955. Although I-84 was completed in 1963 between Portland and The Dalles, construction of the highway in eastern Oregon took a little longer and was built largely in the 1970s, the last section opened to traffic in 1980. In 1983, the last section of Portland’s bypass, the bridge over the Columbia River on the Washington border, opened.

Oregon Road Network