Correction in paragraph three – Testimony from Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross (Italicized)
Smoke and a little bit of fire Monday night as the Newport Planning Commission held a hearing on whether a Traffic Impact Analysis on the suitability for log trucks on SE Moore Drive was valid. Newport Community Director Derrick Tokos said it was, neighbors like Ken Petersen said it wasn’t because it was conducted before crab season started which would have brought more traffic. It was later pointed out that the study numbers were increased 28% to make allowance for that.
Many neighbors against the log project at the International Terminal complained, as they have in the past, that big log trucks and residential areas just don’t mix and that their debarking operations are noisy. They also complained that the roads and some of the terminal area itself is in a slide hazard area and that a slide could be triggered by the vibrations of hundreds of logging trucks a month using Moore Drive.
Community Director Derrick Tokos said that such concerns do not belong in a discussion of a Traffic Impact Analysis which the testimony, by rules of the hearing, should be addressing. Tokos has said in the past that there are no geologic hazards involved with the road. Public Works Director Tim Gross has also said in past meetings that he doesn’t believe trucks cause earthquakes and that most landslides are the result of excess amounts of water, adding that he doesn’t know if truck vibrations could have an impact or not.
Other neighbors again raised concerns about invasive species getting into Yaquina Bay – that enforcement is lax, posing a threat to our local marine ecology. Others said Yaquina Bay should be shipping finished, high value wood products, not raw longs.
Newport/Port Log Truck Task Force member Oly Olsen told the planning commission that Newport should clear the air about the status of Moore Drive, pointing out that there are mixed reports on whether the street is an official truck route. Some say it is, some say it isn’t. He urged the planning commission to urge the city council to go through the proper public hearing procedures to establish Moore Drive as a truck route, if that’s what the city wants. Others said the road was built for trucks when log shipments were booming in the 80’s and early 90’s. One member of the audience said “If it’s got 9 to 14 inches of asphalt over a deep road bed and accommodates heavy truck traffic even today, most of it bound for fish processors along the Bayfront, it’s a truck route.”
The planning commission summarily punted after hearing all the testimoney, saying they’ll keep the record open for another week. After that commissioners will re-read the reports and public testimony surrounding the Traffic Impact Analysis and then, on May 13th they’ll likely vote whether to uphold Community Director Derrick Tokos’ opinion that the analysis was adequate. Their vote will be forwarded on to the city council which will make it’s decision sometime after that.
Teevin Brothers has been saying they need three months to move in, lay down 9 acres of asphalt and begin receiving logs. Depending on the city council’s vote and whether project opponents want to continue their fight, log shipments could be in full swing by the Fall. However it’s pretty hard to work much later than that in the woods after the heavy rains arrive.