Letter to the Editor
I have just returned from another harrowing walk along Oceanview from US 101 to Spring Street otherwise known as the 101 bypass. It has been two-and-a half years since the city raised the speed limit forty percent from 25 to 35 from US 101 to Edenview, a distance of almost a mile.
That first mile has hills and curves. Sight lines are short. When a driver exits 101 onto Oceanview, s/he is exiting a road where the speed limit is forty-five onto one where the speed limit is thirty-five with an immediate curve. This curve is marked with segmented yellow lines which prevail all the way to the wayside indicating it is safe to pass. It is not. From this first curve the road goes up a hill and around another curve to Meritage condos at 33rd. From the top of the hill the road goes straight down to the Agate Beach Wayside where passing is finally prohibited southbound until l7th Street. Northbound vehicles can pass starting just beyond 25th, past the busy wayside up the hill and around the curves to 101. It is possible for a vehicle to pass another northbound vehicle at the wayside resulting in two vehicles going the same way in both lanes at the place where congestion is greatest. Madness.
At the wayside cars are turning into and out of the parking lot and roadside. Adults, kids and dogs are getting in and out of cars. Sandy paws and feet are being cleaned, belongings gathered and kids corralled. People are walking to the beach along the roadside and from the Best Western, where there is now a driveway allowing vehicles onto Oceanview. Many southbound drivers slam on their brakes after barreling down the hill as they approach the congestion. With all that activity going on, the speed limit remains thirty-five. Trucks, passenger vehicles and RVs careen down that hill.
Heading south, another uphill climb. At Edenview, the beginning of a residential area, the speed limit resets to twenty-five. Would that most drivers go only twenty-five when they have just come off thirty-five, often faster.
Continuing south along Oceanview, between 19th and 17th, observe a bent and dented guard rail on the east side and a bank on the west side around an uphill curve. No place to walk. Northbound cars come wheeling around the guard rail often faster than twenty-five while southbound cars do the same around the bank. No sight lines here. Segmented lines indicate passing is allowed. Safe?
After the guard rail curve, houses on both sides of Oceanview. At 14th, an S-curve leading to Spring which has no shoulder for part of the way. Either fall into the bushes on the west side or hug a bank on the east. Segmented yellow lines to Spring indicate passing is safe. Really?
*US 101 through Newport has a speed limit of thirty-five. The first mile of Oceanview from 101 to Edenview has a speed limit of thirty-five.
* The road through Newport is five lanes flat and straight. Oceanview is two-lanes with hills and curves.
* Through town there are several traffic lights and pedestrian crosswalks. Oceanview has neither.
* Through town 101 has sidewalks on both sides. Oceanview has none.
I described Oceanview as the 101 bypass. Most of the license plates register Oregon. Traffic strings from north and south lead to the assumption they turn onto Oceanview to avoid lights and crossings to where they can speed with near impunity. Law enforcement is not to blame. They cannot be everywhere all the time. But Officer Hayden caught two speeders within about ten minutes recently. I thanked him.
I have to jump out of the way – truly – about every eight walks. A man and his dog were put into a muddy ditch by a speeding vehicle. People walking dogs downhill to the Agate Beach Wayside want the speed limit lowered. One walker who complained said Mr. Nebel, our city manager, told her ODOT did a study and left it to the city to decide about the speed limit. The city opted to raise it. Over the last two-plus years scores of others have agreed the speed limit must be be lowered. Patrolling police officers have said speed limits are too high. When the speed limit all around was twenty-five, many did not obey it. They didn’t go twenty-five then, and they are not going thirty-five now. They don’t slow southbound when approaching the lower limit and are often already speeding northbound before the speed limit increases to thirty-five.
The speed limit from 101 to Spring should be twenty. There should be solid yellow lines along the entire length of Oceanview. Passing is currently allowed where sight lines are short, and on only a short piece of the middle section is it prohibited.
A sign on 101 at Oceanview describes it as a scenic Oregon bike route. I invite Spencer Nebel, Tim Gross and any other city official to accompany me on a three-mile walk. Those who made these decisions need to walk north and south to understand how hazardous the speed is to those not in vehicles. No villains here, just speeders and officials who don’t understand the danger Oceanview presents for walkers and bikers.
There is a meeting coming up Monday, July 17th, 6pm at Newport City Hall to discuss this matter.
Contact: Spencer Nebel, our city manager: email@example.com or call (541) 574-0601; and Tim Gross, our public works department head: firstname.lastname@example.org. or call (541) 574-3369. Send comments to the News-Times. Mail this Viewpoint to each at City Hall,169 SW Coast Highway, Newport 97365 with your notes and name.
If it is necessary to present our city officials with a petition, I and others who want to walk and bike safely will be around with them.