A few Newport residents showed up at the Newport Town Hall meeting Monday night to once again voice their staunch opposition to the Port of Newport’s relaunching log exports from the International Terminal, just east of the Embarcadero on the Bay Road.
The Landing Newport Condominiums Manager Dee Shannon once again expressed dismay that the city of Newport would partner with the Port of Newport to bring 50 logging trucks a day, five days a week, down Moore Road and out the Bay Road to the International Terminal, and bring with them noise and hazards for motorists and pedestrians alike. Shannon’s group has also expressed their opposition in filing papers in court and appeal documents to the Land Use Board of Appeals in an effort to stop it. In the face of all this, log export company Teevin Brothers announced that they’ve given up on having their operation up and running in time to ship logs this logging season. But they are hoping to get going next year, sometime in early spring after all the appeals have been pursued.
Shannon and her supporters asked the city council about the latest on pursuing an alternate route from Highway 20 down to the Bay Road so that trucks don’t have to go through their neighborhood. City Councilor David Allen said the joint city-port task force is looking into that, but because an alternate route would be outside the city, the project would have to be spearheaded by the Lincoln County Commission. City Community Development Director Derrick Tokos added that creating such a route would be both expensive and a challenge to engineer. He said although there are some surplus ODOT funds that have materialized for the region, “the competition for those funds is fierce,” he said. Tokos went on to say, “ODOT considers Moore Road a safe and proper roadway for logging trucks enroute to the terminal. Further, a new road coming down to the Bay Road from the East would be an engineering challenge because of sight visibility problems with Highway 20 and of the unstable hillsides that would make engineering such a road difficult at best.” Others said even if the road was approved, between design, engineering and construction, it would be years before the road could be opened to truck traffic.
Shannon responded by urging the port to drop log exports in favor of other profitable activities at the terminal. A couple of councilors suggested she talk to the port commission because it’s their project, not the city’s.
On another topic, Newport Police Sergeant Tony Garbarino reported that the city continues to hone its tsunami preparedness program. He said they’re in the process of replacing old tsunami inundation signs with new ones – only located higher up to reflect the findings of new research that a Cascadia Subduction Zone tsunami could reach a height of 80 feet rather than 35′ which was an earlier estimate. Sgt. Garbarino also said it puts a lot of pressure on the city to ensure everyone in South Beach knows which way is the way to Safe Haven Hill, as well as to the college up 40th Street. Sgt. Garbarino also said new evacuation route signs pointing the way to higher ground will be placed along the Bayfront. He said “We don’t want to scare people with the signs, but we also have a duty to inform tourists especially, that if we have an earthquake, THIS is the way to higher ground.” He urged anyone who has access to the internet to log onto OregonTsunami.org and view the updated tsunami inundation maps recently issued by the state department of geology. (You can print them on your home computer). They show inundation zones for earthquakes generated far away as well as for the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Oregon Coast.
As for expanding parking along the Bayfront, Mr. Tokos reported that plans are coming together to combine some city owned property with other properties to expand parking options. The city is still working on it.
City Public Works Director Tim Gross reported that a contractor will be hired this week to repair Big Creek Road that runs between the municipal pool and the water treatment plant. The road was badly damaged during a powerful winter storm that caused the road to slump out – pieces of it sliding down into a drainage just west of Forest Park. Gross said he expects the road to be repaired fairly quickly. Total cost around $750,000. Gross said it’s 75% FEMA funded leaving 25% to be shouldered by the city. But he added, the city has managed to use a grant and other funding sources to reduce the city’s out of pocket expenses on the project to ZERO! When it’s reopened, it will remain a gravel, one way road. But he also said further improvements are contemplated in the future.
Gross also reported that a major storm drain upgrade and intersection reconstruction project for Moore and Bay Roads will get underway shortly. Gross said it involves more than just the intersection – it affects a very wide drainage area around it. So it’ll take some time to complete. But regardless, he says, he wants it to be done by the end of next April or early May.
And with that Mayor Sandra Roumagoux thanked everyone who turned out and gaveled the town hall meeting to a close.