Newport has just been awarded a $450,000 grant by ODOT to help pedestrians in Newport more safely cross a perpetually busy Highway 101. Newport Community Development Director Derrick Tokos says the grant, plus some additional funds from the city, will target eight crossings of 101 from North 15th clear down to Bailey. Some of those crossings will have landscaped pedestrian refuge islands so that during the busy summer months, when breaks in traffic are few and far between, pedestrians can break up their journey across all five lanes.
But there will be other improvements as well, says Tokos, including pedestrian activated buttons at Avery and 101 between the Salvation Army and City Hall. When the buttons are pushed, overhead pedestrian warning lights will flash which will come in very handy during the months that the Newport Farmers Market is held on Saturdays.
Other pedestrian crosswalk improvements will be made in the City Center area in the form of pedestrian curb extenders which will shorten the pavement distance between both sides of the street.
Tokos says he expects the projects to take a while to complete, depending on labor from city public works, but that he hopes it will all be complete within the next 18 months.
Newport City Councilors have agreed to close Eads Street on school days between 3rd and 4th streets, the block between the high school and the prep academy across the way. Newport High Principal Jon Zagel, with the support of Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda, recommended the closure for safety reasons. Zagel told the council there are numerous near misses all the time between students and cars as students try to get back and forth across the crosswalk that connects the two campuses. Zagel said kids have been struck, but luckily none have been seriously hurt. “But it’s just a matter of time when one will be, if we don’t do something,” Zagel warned the council.
The council agreed that the concerns are real but questioned the long closure time requested; 7am-5pm. Zagel said they could be flexible with a later start in the morning and an earlier close in the afternoon. He suggested perhaps a closure of 8am to 4pm to accommodate parents who drop their kids off in front of the school and the fact that most students have left the campus by 4pm. Tim Gross of public works said he would help them develop a traffic plan and report back to council at their next meeting.