Newport: Logging trucks coming after Jan. 1st to John Moore Road. Port and Newport to explore other truck routes later.
Although Newport Port Director Don Mann admits the port doesn’t have a final agreement hammered out with log exporting company Teevin Brothers of Rainier, Oregon, Mann says he’s confident that full logging trucks will by plying Highway 20, down John Moore Road, then east on Bay Road to the new International Terminal. There they will be loaded aboard ships that will take the logs to China or any other country in the Pacific Rim that wants to buy them. Mann predicts the logging trucks will begin to roll by the first of the year.
Neighbors in that part of town were understandably very concerned about logging trucks rumbling down John Moore, then having to make a sharp turn at the bottom, and then take up most of the eastbound section of the Bay Road from the Embarcadero to the port entrance. A quick list of neighborhood concerns included:
* Although logging trucks were part of the landscape back in the 80’s, a lot has changed since then. The area has become far more residential. An alternate route should be created.
* Logging trucks and tourists don’t mix well, nor do they mix well with children, bicyclists or pedestrians.
* The the presence of hundreds of logging trucks will reduce property values.
* Logging trucks will detract from the Bay Road’s emergence as a favorite walking, biking and jogging throughway. Safety will be compromised by the trucks.
* Noise could become an ongoing headache for the neighbors.
* Wear and tear on John Moore Road and a section of the Bay road would fall on city of Newport taxpayers which is unfair.
* Hours of logging truck and unloading operations should be established. Teevin Brothers wants 6am to 6pm. Newport City Councilors were thinking more like 7am to 4pm but it’s all up for negotiation.
* Some residents were concerned about ships coming into Yaquina Bay and bringing invasive species in their bilge waters.
Comments addressing those issues included:
* The port clearly understands the neighbors’ concerns. The port is “all ears” on public input on the process by which logging exports return to Newport.
* Newport and the Port of Newport is forming a task force with port and city officials, along with representatives of the public serving on it.
* City and port officials said they would like to have the task force up and running by August to begin developing plans to get logs off Highway 20 and down to the International Terminal without using John Moore Road. Officials say any proposal will be very expensive. It was also said that anyone or any company that is profiting from these log exports should be paying their fair share into determining and building a safer, more effective truck route from Highway 20 to the port.
* The task force will develop ideas for an alternate route and begin working closely with ODOT to be the primary state “go-to” agency to make it happen. Funding will be the stickler. However, Oregon lottery funds that were largely responsible for NOAA moving to Newport, may come to the rescue again to help fund an alternative route that makes sense. There are also other funding sources being explored.
* Concerns about invasive species hitching rides in the bilge tanks of logging ships will be addressed through strict regulations about open ocean dumping of bilge water so that ships arrive in Newport with clean water in their ballast tanks. They say there will be a limited number of ships transporting logs overseas and that all of them are fully certified and committed to properly managing their bilge waters.
* The positive economic impacts of the logging and log transport operations will be quite substantial for Newport and surrounding areas.
The Port Commission takes up the matter again on June 26th while the Newport City Council will tackle it again in early July. Both port and city officials seemed very anxious to get appointments made to the task force. They are inviting interested citizens of Newport and others in the region to take part since the port district runs pretty much up and down the central portion of Lincoln County’s coastline.