The Newport-Port of Newport Moore Road Safety Task Force got an earful Wednesday night from those who favor the safety fixes to Moore Road to make it safer for log truck deliveries to the International Terminal as well as from those totally opposed to Moore Road being used for any such activity citing safety concerns for pedestrians, children and the motoring public.
Task Force Chairman Doug Wills outlined safety enhancements for Highway 20, its intersection with Moore Road, the intersection with the Bay Road and turning into the International Terminal. Wills said the task force is suggesting to the Newport City Council and the Port of Newport that they try to convince ODOT to adjust the speed limits on the final stretch of Highway 20 coming into Newport as it approaches the intersection with Moore Road. Wills said the 45 mph sign should be moved much father east on the hill coming into town, and the 30 mph sign moved farther east as well – to give all traffic, including log trucks, more time to slow down. Even as it is, the quick notice on the 30 mph zone doesn’t give log truck drivers, unfamiliar with the area, enough time to stop their very heavy trucks, so they just blow their horns and blow through the intersection. Wills said it’s quite common.
A suggestion was made by longshoreman union member and long time resident Yale Fogarty that the light at Highway 20 and Harney should be modified to have a momentary four-way red light to keep the intersection clear in anticipation of such occurrences.
The plan also calls for a much longer left turn storage lane for westbound 20 at the light, and a farther downhill stop-line on Moore Road to give turning log trucks more room to turn south onto Moore. Also, no parking on Moore Road during log truck hours: 6am – 4pm.
At the bottom of the hill at Moore and the Bay Road, the safety plan calls for a new alignment of the intersection so that motorists and truckers entering the intersection can more easily see all traffic; whether it’s coming down Moore, headed west or east on Bay and where the stop signs are. It’s also in the plan that all signs be hyper-bright LED signs so even on a bright sunny day even tourists unfamiliar with the intersection know exactly where things are and how to navigate the intersection. Also, rumble strips, either imbedded in the pavement or just broad stripes painted on the road could also add an air of enhanced safety as tourists and locals alike travel through the area.
There were many questions surrounding how many log trucks a day would be coming down Moore Road, how many ships a month would be visiting the port and how many jobs would be created by the log export operations. Teevin Brothers’ Eric Teevin said there would would be roughly fifty trucks a day coming down Moore Road and one ship a month taking the logs aboard and transporting them to China and other Asian ports. Teevin predicted somewhere between 40 and 60 full time family wage jobs would be created, and that one ship a month would be it for the foreseeable future.
Still, several residents in the audience got up to say they are adamantly opposed to log trucks using Moore Road. One man, a local doctor with six small children, said his house is right on Moore Road and he fears for his childrens’ safety. He added that he doesn’t look forward to the noise all those trucks will make going down and coming back up that steep stretch of pavement. One woman said she’s opposed to any raw log shipments leaving the U.S. saying “we’re just shipping jobs overseas in exchange for more pollution, threats of invasive species clinging inside and outside the ships, destroying a beautiful neighborhood and making the east end of Newport unfriendly to tourists and harmful to nearby businesses.”
Longshoreman’s union member Tracy Bruchett said as a life-long resident of Newport he couldn’t remember a single bad accident involving log trucks on Moore Road. He said log truck drivers deal with very challenging conditions in the mountains, far worse than anything Moore Road could throw at them. He said Moore Road was built years ago for heavy trucks associated with the port and that its 9″ of asphalt all but guarantees there will be very little, if any vibration in anyone’s home when the trucks drive by. Bruchett claimed that when the log operations begin next Fall, the neighbors will witness with their own eyes and ears just how quiet the trucks are and how much of a bother they aren’t. Others reminded the audience that Newport area voters approved a $15 million bond measure in 2006 to rebuild the International Terminal because they believed it would help create desperately needed jobs for the community.
With that the task force voted unanimously to send their package of Moore Road safety recommendations to the city of Newport, the Port of Newport and to ODOT. A traffic impact study on the project has just been received by the city of Newport and will be posted on the city’s website under “Community Development.”
The Port of Newport will be considering the approval of the Moore Road Safety suggestions at its meeting on January 24th, 6pm at their South Beach Marina office meeting room, and then at the Newport City Council meeting on February 4th, 6pm at city hall.
Just before he gaveled the task force meeting adjourned, Chairman Doug Wills reminded the crowd that with the first phase of their task completed, the task force will now devote all future meetings to finding an alternate route for the trucks so they don’t have to use Moore Road. However, Wills said determining an alternate route may come easier than finding the money required to build it. “But that’s our next mission,” he said.