Currently, The City of Newport is in the process of updating/revising a Transportation System Plan. Due to Covid restrictions, general public meetings have not been conducted, yet the plan is well under way. It seems like the concrete has been poured but is not yet solid, thus only with wide public awareness will any changes be able to be made before the plan is permanently set.
First, be aware that I am firmly for proper planning, and have been for years. I have been involved with Neighborhood planning groups in Newport since 1990 with The Glick Plan, Bayfront, Nye Beach, Hwy 101 Corridor, South Beach and Cell Tower plans. I have attended Urban Renewal, City Council and Airport planning meetings for the last 20 years and hold a Degree in Urban Planning. I have also been a Real Estate Broker, CFP, and Business Owner. This, I only mention to lend credence to the following warnings and recommendations along with, hopefully, an experienced and informed opinion.
A few years ago, roughly 150 people gathered in the new Hospital annex building and resoundingly stated their opposition to a One Way Couplet along 9th St. beginning at the Hospital and exiting at City Hall. Unfortunately, this suggestion never died and is now being proposed as a means to salvage a couple of blocks of Hwy 101. This plan is being promoted without any proper justification or consideration of the the disastrous effects a noisy 24 hr/day, heavily trafficked Highway will have on residents to the East of the Highway nor the detrimental affects this will have on local businesses. There is no mention of the Ten Million+ Dollars needed for a complete tear up of the roads, an additional signal at Herbert, removal of the million dollar parking lot also used by the Farmers Market, and most likely, the removal of the unsafe parallel parking currently being used. The Majority of the property along 9th Street is in public or non profit use. Those properties that are not public will only be able to access it from one direction if this plan is adopted. This will also create a difficult and potentially dangerous transit for emergency vehicles. There are no viable examples showing that this would in any way enhance real estate values for the area in question.
What is the better common sense way? Simply follow the carefully thought out, and subsequently adopted plan from way back in the 1991 Glick Study. Remove the public funded parking as has been done for the rest of the town, where private owners pay to have their parking. Place a middle turn out lane at the Herbert Light and for the next couple of blocks such as one in front of the Pig and Pancake so turning vehicles do not block traffic. This would save Ten Million Dollars as well as lives. The few properties not on the corners have access to parking on 7th and 9th and tax payer provided land for parking on 9th already exists. There is no plan, current or future to have bike lanes on 101 so it is totally uncalled for in a two block area. Safer alternative bike routes in this area have already been established. Funds would be much better spent for the enhancement of these routes rather than establishing new ones.
If there is a future for Retail in this two block area, the focus should be on enhancing 7th and 9th streets by providing proper means to safely turn off of Hwy 101 without blocking traffic. The elimination of the current unsafe parallel parking would be a further enhancement to the areas traffic and pedestrian safety.
The removal of parallel parking in this limited area will provide wider travel lanes and room for proper left turn lanes. This would be very easy to accomplish. The current, poorly conceived proposal is dubious at best. If it is somehow forced upon us it will be very costly. No tax revenue increase or imagined benefit will ever manifest itself. This plan, by default, would also effectively eliminate the future implementation of the actual fix for this dangerous traffic situation.
Jeff Bertuleit, former Newport City Councilor