The Newport City Council spent more time Monday night listening to residents along Moore Road express fears for their children’s safety, air and noise pollution, traffic issues, diminishment of their property values and a young doctor saying he may leave the area if logging truck are allowed to use Moore Road as a connector link between Highway 20 and Newport’s new International Terminal. If all goes according to plan, up to 50 logging trucks a day will start in September or October to deliver logs to the the terminal for shipment to China. Trucking operations are expected to run 7am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday. No trucks on the weekend or other holidays or on days when there are large tourist events going on like Seafood and Wine. They also reminded the council that up to 60 family wage jobs will likely be created by the new log export operation.
Logging Truck Safety Task Force members Doug Wills and Oly Olsen again outlined to the city council of their plans to slow traffic coming down Highway 20 into to Newport, modifying the intersection at 20 and Moore Road, eliminating parking along stretches of Moore, creating several left turn lanes to the east, a realigned intersection at Bay and Moore with better signage as well enhancing motorist visibilities all around at Moore and Bay roads.
Wills again reiterated that the task force is strongly committed to finding an alternate route for the logging trucks to exit Highway 20 and down to the International Terminal. Wills said “It will take negotiations with land owners, finding grant and other funds and then building the road. It won’t happen overnight,” he said. “But we are definitely pursuing it.”
However, Moore Road neighbors were unmoved. They claimed logging trucks lumbering down their street will be disruptive and that their noise and diesel smoke will deter tourists who normally would want to stay at hotels at the bottom of the hill. Another neighbor railed about invasive species known to hitch rides on ships from the far east and invading American shores. Another contended that 50 trucks a day, which could mushroom into many more than that, pose a severe threat to the motoring public. He asked Police Chief Mark Miranda to provide a history of traffic accidents on Moore road.
To the fear of invasive species that are found occasionally in ships’ bilge water, staff reminded the council that the Coast Guard and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are in charge of inspecting ships to ensure they do their bilge water exchange in open ocean well offshore. Wills and Olsen also reiterated the improvements at the intersection of Moore and Bay Roads that will make the intersection much safer with wider lanes, better visibility of oncoming traffic and bright LED lighting on stop signs and pedestrian warning lights.
City councilors said that they and Newport Port Commissioners will hold a town hall type meeting on the logging export issue either in late February or early March duringwhich the public can ask more questions and discuss the project.
As a possible indication that they expect the project to proceed, the council voted unanimously to send a letter to ODOT, signed by the council and the port, that they want speed limits modified on Highway 20 to slow down traffic farther to the east to enhance safety at 20 and Moore Road.
Meanwhile, a recent Traffic Impact Analysis on the truck traffic is still being finalized by the consultants and Teevin Brothers. Teevin Brothers is the logging operation company that is expected to sign a contract shortly with the port to begin operations in September or October.