Moore and Bay Road area neighbors have filed an appeal of a recent traffic study that determined that Moore and Bay Roads can properly handle 50 loaded log trucks a day enroute to the soon-to-be-complete International Terminal.
The contention that the study is flawed comes from Oregon Coast Alliance attorney Sean Malone, representing local residents Michael and Christy Peterson and the Landing at Newport Condominium Association. They’re challenging plans to launch a raw log export project that starts in the woods in a wide arc around the region and winds up at the terminal off the Bay Road and just outside the Newport City Limits. From there the logs will be loaded aboard a large ship which will ferry them to Far East Asian countries. One shipload a month is projected for the foreseeable future. However, log volumes could eventually grow to the point that an additional ship a month would be necessary according to Teevin Brothers, the Rainier-based firm proposing to run the log yard.
Back in 2006, Newport area voters passed a 14 million dollar bond to return the long-dormant International Terminal to life. At the time, the old terminal was a source of chronic pollution to the bay from oils and other toxins that were leaking from two sunken World War II concrete ships that provided the under-dock support for the terminal. The bond paid for the removal of one ship and the gutting and sealing-up of another. The bond also helped to pay for the complete renovation of the terminal (which ran a large log export operation in the 1980s and 90s) in preparation for what was described as the rebirth of “robust export operations” aimed at creating family wage jobs. Logs or not, large truck traffic was part of the reason for the bond.
But meanwhile, new residents moved into the area. They built and bought homes. The last thing on their minds was to have log trucks driving past their front room windows, and, in their view, posing a safety hazard to their children.
And so residents Michael and Christy Peterson, along with the Landing at Newport Condominium Association, filed an appeal on the city-sponsored assessment of Moore and Bay Roads’ ability to handle the additional log truck traffic. The study determined the roads could handle that traffic fairly easily, with some minor adjustments to the roadway, namely upgrading the intersections at Highway 20 at Moore and downhill at Moore and Bay.
But those appealing the traffic study are not convinced. In their appeal action, they contend that the traffic impact analysis failed to demonstrate that incoming and outgoing logging trucks can be safely accommodated along the route of Highway 20 to Moore, to Bay Road and to the Terminal. They claim that the analysis does not demonstrate that there won’t be traffic backups or delays at intersections, that intersection sight distances won’t be affected, that the study doesn’t accurately describe possible traffic back ups, wear and tear on pavement, traffic counts and other ODOT requirements.
Their challenge also includes allegations that the study does not account for increased traffic during crab season, address geologic hazards (earth movements), prepares no report on geologic hazards nor how to handle any hazards. The report, they claim, fails to demonstrate that project engineers will take erosion control measures and that the report fails to provide other important geologic information.
The Transportation Impact Analysis report was reviewed by Newport Community Development Department Director Derrick Tokos and Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross who both agreed that the analysis was thorough and that with intersection upgrades at Highway 20 and Moore, as well as at Moore and Bay, the routing of the logging trucks along the prescribed roadways should be adequate.
Meanwhile the TIA report appeal is scheduled to be presented to the Newport City Planning Commission April 22nd, 6pm, at City Hall. It will be an open, public meeting and public testimony will be welcomed.
From there the challenge would be forwarded, with a recommendation, to the Newport City Council which would hold another public hearing, and then make its ruling. If the challengers don’t like the decision, the matter could go to the Land Use Board of Appeals in Salem for its ruling. If that doesn’t satisfy the challengers, they could appeal to the State Court of Appeals, and from there the State Supreme Court. Although that sounds like a multi-year journey, it generally isn’t. Such appeals are handled very quickly by relying on well established state law and similar cases that have come before them in the past.
Meanwhile, Teevin Brothers has said they would like to be shipping logs from Newport’s International Terminal by late Summer or early Fall.