When logging trucks begin hauling their loads to Newport’s new International Terminal next year, they’ll be resuming what was once a thriving log export operation that ended in the mid-1990s. However, in those intervening nearly 20 years, families with young children and the elderly have bought homes along John Moore Road between Highway 20 and the Bay Road which leads to the terminal. The neighborhood seems to understand the point but many said they never dreamed that log exports would re-emerge in Newport and put 15 ton log hauling beheamouths streaming by their homes, by the hundreds.
A special task force to examine logging truck access to the International Terminal, chaired by local resident and businessman Doug Wills, launched a discussion to target specific safety enhancements intended to minimize the risk to bicyclists, pedestrians and children at play along John Moore Road as well as east on Bay Road to the terminal.
The task force agreed that safety enhancements must also be added to Highway 20 itself, coming in to Newport. It was agreed that ODOT should give trucks more time to slow down in order to make their southerly turn onto John Moore. The task force suggested that ODOT lower the speed limit coming into Newport so that truck drivers would have more time to safely get into what should become a longer left turn lane as they make their turn south off the highway and onto John Moore Road.
The task force also indicated that it would be much safer for truckers if parking was eliminated during the week along John Moore to allow trucks to more safely head downhill and turn east onto the Bay Road.
They say that the northwest corner of Bay and John Moore should be cut back to allow truckers to see any traffic coming from the west on Bay Road. They also strongly urged Newport to use bright LED lights to warn motorists on Bay Road to alert drivers to watch for downhill traffic on John Moore which does not stop. Task force members said it is extremely important, especially for motorists headed east on Bay, to be aware that downhill traffic on John Moore keeps going through the intersection and can turn right or left onto Bay. Again, very brightly lit LED signs are a must, according to the task force. They said tourists are not aware of the unusual traffic pattern at John Moore and Bay and many blow right through the stop sign on Bay heading east. Even if they do stop, they pull out right away thinking that John Moore traffic has a stop sign too, which they don’t.
Discussions also touched on truck noise and the use of jack brakes. Jack brakes are illegal in Newport and most cities in Oregon. Possible brake failure was also raised on behalf of those who work at the Embarcadero at the bottom of the hill. One of the veteran truck drivers serving on the task force said that truck brakes are extremely robust and that failure is extremely rare. He said despite the grade of John Moore, it’s nothing that would, on its own, cause brakes to fail.
Reducing speed limits coming into Newport, making minor adjustments to the intersection at Highway 20 and John Moore Road, eliminating weekday parking along John Moore Road, enhanced visibility and better signage at Bay and John Moore and a few other minor points are expected to be discussed further at the task force’s next meeting at 6pm, October 10th at Newport City Hall.
Whatever safety enhancements are eventually implemented will likely be deemed as adequate, that is, until ODOT, the city and the port arrange for a different access route from Highway 20 to the International Terminal. Determining how, when or who is going to pay for it is a ways off into the future. No one on the task force speculated how long a new access road to the terminal might take to complete.