Newport Public Works has reopened Big Creek Road between Sam Case School and the city’s water treatment plant, or as the road engineer flies, from NE 12 to NE Harney. The road was closed for nearly three years after a 2011 winter storm super saturated the soils on a section between Frank Wade Park and about behind San Bay O Circle. About a third of the gravel road slumped down a 75 foot drop off. But between FEMA funds and some state grant funding, the road is back, stronger and a little wider than before. Improved drainage will also enhance the stability of the roadway as well as to the security of the high voltage lines that run along the east side of the roadway.
Big Creek Road from Harney to 12th is one-way south, which will give neighbors near the city reservoir a quicker way into town than taking 31st to 101 and enduring what sometimes can be a white knuckle left turn onto southbound 101 into town. Now they can take Big Creek Road one-way south to 12th and backtrack to Fred Meyer, Safeway or Walmart or they can head south to JC Market at 101 and 20. Going home will be a lot easier because its a northbound trip. You just turn right onto 31st, then to Harney. So, it’s a series of right turns with traffic using Big Creek Road south, as opposed to taking 31st to 101, then the harrowing left turn onto 101.
There has been some debate as to whether the rebuilt road should be a two way street. But many residents protested the idea – at least until the road is further improved. They pointed out that two way traffic would crowd out walkers, hikers, joggers and dog exercisers who have enjoyed that stretch of road for thirty years – Big Creek always having been a one way south throughway – ever since the county turned it over to the city.
City Public Works Director Tim Gross says Big Creek Road could become part of a center-of-town bypass for traffic southbound on 101 wanting to shortcut to Highway 20, or Highway 20 traffic wanting a shortcut north to 101 beyond Walmart. But he admits it’s still a long term goal which may, in fact entail a different right of way than Big Creek Road.
But for now, Big Creek Road is back open, SOUTHBOUND ONE-WAY from Harney to 12th. NO NORTHBOUND TRAFFIC except for emergency vehicles like police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.