A number of Lakewood Hills residents showed up at the Newport City Council Monday night to both thank the city for restoring Big Creek Road that again connects them from Harney to NE 12th but also to tell the council please don’t make the road two way – it’s still too narrow and is a popular hiking, biking and dog walking throughway.
City Public Works Director Tim Gross said the road is wider now than it was before the Winter of 2011 slump out. He said the city’s transportation plan shows the road being gradually upgraded so as to become part of an easterly bypass around Newport for those who don’t want to use Highway 101. Gross said that the road is wide enough to accommodate two vehicles going past each other. However he also said that even if the easterly bypass is built it may not take this exact route and that any bypass is likely to be 20 years out, at the earliest.
Neighbors reminded the council that many Lakewood Hills residents like to walk, jog, ride their bikes and walk their dogs along that dirt portion of Big Creek Road. They said sharing the road with one way traffic would be disturbing enough without making it two way. “There’s just not enough room,” said Pat and Jean Cowan, long time residents of the area. A number of their neighbors agreed with them. Others said they feared for children walking on the road going to and from school sharing it with traffic. And with a huge drop off to the east, accidents are bound to happen causing serious injuries or death. They pointed out several that have already occurred.
Gross followed up after the public testimony saying that while two way would work he was perfectly fine with one way being the rule for the foreseeable future. He said he just wanted the public discussion to get it on the record about the city transportation plan, the fact the road is wide enough for two way traffic and that other accommodations for pedestrians and bicycle riders might be feasible in the future if the roadway should become two way. He said he’s fine with one way and so is the Newport Fire Department which told him that as long as they can travel it both ways it will work for them as well.
City Manager Spencer Nebel said that city staff will compile all citizen testimony and prepare a traffic control document officially designating Big Creek Road one way to the south. Gross said the road still needs some grade finishing, but after that it should be open – within a few weeks.