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Newport: Same dispute – those who want log operations at International Terminal vs those who don’t

Teevin Brothers Traffic Impact Analysis Appeal/protest by neighbors Newport City Hall

Teevin Brothers
Traffic Impact Analysis
Appeal/protest by neighbors
Newport City Hall

Teevin Brothers Team "We'll run a clean operation"

Teevin Brothers Team
“We’ll run a clean operation”

Ken Petersen Neighbors Against, Traffic counts way off, Moore Road condition unverified

Ken Petersen
Neighbors oppose and appealing traffic study

Comm. Dev't Dir. Derrick Tokos "Moore Road can handle traffic" "Traffic Analysis was adequate"

Comm. Dev’t Dir. Derrick Tokos
“Moore Road can handle traffic”
“Traffic Analysis was adequate”

Rio Davidson, Local Activist "This project is bad for Newport's tourism, economy and quality of life.  Don't make Newport look like Coos Bay.  We'll take this to the next level."

Rio Davidson, Local Activist
“This project is bad for Newport’s tourism, economy and quality of life. Don’t make Newport look like Coos Bay. If you try, we’ll take this to the next level.”

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.”

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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.

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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.

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Opponents of log trucks on Moore Road and the Bay Road file appeal

Moore Road at Bay Blvd Fifty trucks a day clustered during mid- mornings and early afternoons

Moore Road at Bay Blvd
Fifty trucks a day clustered during mid- mornings and early afternoons

Moore Road looking north from Bay Blvd

Moore Road looking north from Bay Blvd

Proposed re-alignment of Moore@Bay Blvd intersection

Proposed re-alignment of Moore@Bay Blvd intersection

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Few minds were changed during town hall meeting on log shipment operations coming later this year at International Terminal

Standing room only at OCCC Community Room Tuesday night

Standing room only at OCCC Community Room
Tuesday night

Both sides came loaded for bear - made their points forcefully.  Several hoops yet to jump through.

Both sides came loaded for bear – made their points forcefully. Several hoops yet to jump through.

Log Truck Task Force Chairman Doug Wills outlined road upgrades for the truck to make travel safer.

Log Truck Task Force Chairman Doug Wills outlined road upgrades for the truck to make travel safer.

ODOT's Joe Squires outlined the challenges of finding an alternate route from Highway 20 to the International Terminal.

ODOT’s Joe Squires outlined the challenges of finding an alternate route from Highway 20 to the International Terminal.

Port Manager Don Mann reminded the room that the voters approved big bond election in 2006 to make International Terminal into a job creator.

Port Manager Don Mann reminded the room that the voters approved big bond election in 2006 to make International Terminal into a job creator.

Log operation opponent Ken Peterson said log trucks are huge safety hazard, foul the air and create noise. An affront to tourism.

Log operation opponent Ken Peterson said log trucks are huge safety hazard, foul the air and create noise. Log operations also will be noisy. An affront to tourism.

Rio Davidson, community activist - shipping raw logs to China is wrong - plus environmental threats to the Yaquina Bay.

Rio Davidson, community activist – shipping raw logs to China is wrong – plus environmental threats to the Yaquina Bay.

Newport City Councilor David Allen, urges citizens to continue their involvement through the entire process

Newport City Councilor David Allen, urges citizens to continue their involvement through the entire process

It was a rather divided room of well over 100 people at Oregon Coast Community College Tuesday night who came to give their support or voice their opposition to a log export operation at the soon to be completed International Terminal, owned by the Port of Newport.

The crowd spilled over into two rooms full of folks some of whom view the new terminal as a job-creating Godsend, while opponents claimed it’ll pollute the bay, the air, and pose a big safety threat to motorists, pedestrians and school children who use SE Moore and Bay Roads.

Newport Port Commissioners, Newport City Councilors and the Logging Truck Task Force gave a comprehensive description of the log export operation which is expected to begin in late Fall. It involves 50 logging truck trips a day using SE Moore and the Bay Road, trips clumped mainly in the morning and early afternoon.

To better accommodate the trucks, the intersection at Moore and Bay will be re-aligned to improve traffic visibility, protected turning movements and a raised elevation for downhill traffic making a left on the Bay Road. A new storm drain system will also be installed under the intersection. Further down the Bay Road, the turn-in at the terminal wil be cleared out of unnecessary vegetation in an effort to increase visibility.

Eric Teevin said hours of operation will be from 7am to 4pm for truck traffic and until 8pm for other terminal operations which include log debarking. The debarker will be electric so it will be quieter than earlier versions. The city will be in charge of ensuring that the municipal noise ordinance is not violated by the logging operations at the terminal.

Log transport ships are expected to follow the rules about when to dump their ballast and when to take in new ballast so as to minimize the threat of invasive species coming ashore and jarring the local marine ecology. An Oregon Department of Environmental Quality staffer said they inspect ballast management records of most ships coming into Oregon waters and are boarding upwards to 16% of all ships that call on Oregon ports. Teevin Brothers has said in the past that they will be working with a small number of ships for their Asian runs, all crews which they know very well and are confident are following the rules.

The logs are going to be coming from nearby forests owned by Hancock Forest Management (HFM) with over 200,000 acres of timber ready to be harvested. HFM spokesman Jeff Vermillion said they run sustainable forests which are cut on scheduled intervals. He said log shipments out of the Port of Newport are good for their firm as well as for Newport’s economy which is anxious to grow new family wage jobs. Teevin’s new port operation is expected to create at least 20 such full time positions. They’d like to begin shipping logs later this year.

Port officials also reminded the crowd that Newport voters in 2006 approved a $15 million dollar bond which will be combined with other grants and loans to rehabilitate the International Terminal. It was falling apart and threatening to pollute Yaquina Bay at a time that commercial fishermen were clamoring for more industrial space to store their gear and to work on their vessels. The voters were told at the time that cargo shipping would play a big role in generating enough income to retire the bond, pay off the loans and create new jobs.

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However, opponents claimed that big log trucks don’t mix well with residential neighborhoods. Critics like Mike Peterson and others of the anti-log truck group Save Our Newport, said log truck operations in their quiet neighborhoods would be disruptive, harm their quality of life and pose a severe danger along Moore Road’s long downhill grade and on the Bay Road. Others said tourist accommodations at the bottom of Moore Road such as the Embarcadero and The Landing will suffer reduced income as tourists seek lodging elsewhere, away from the noisy grind of logging trucks going by outside their windows. Community Activist Rio Davidson called the log shipment operations a harbinger of toxic contamination in Yaquina Bay and furthering the spread of invasive species into the environment. He called the 2006 bond a subsidy for a multi-billion dollar corporation that should process their logs in America creating jobs here rather than shipping them to China and creating jobs there. Another long term resident said it is critical that if the log truck and shipment operations become a mainstay of the eastern Bayfront area, every effort should be made to build an alternate access road from Highway 20 down to the Bay Road so the Moore Road area could resume its quiet and scenic lifestyle. Several members in the audience challenged Hancock Forest Management’s Jeff Vermillion whether the company felt any obligation to help fund such an alternate road. Vermillion replied that they hadn’t thought about it but that there may be an opportunity to review the idea.

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City Councilor David Allen urged the crowd to continue their involvement with the process so that their voices can be heard and their positions made clear when an expected appeal of the project’s Traffic Impact Assessment is presented to the city council for its review. City staff has determined the assessment is accurate but many in the audience contended Tuesday night that it isn’t.

Stay tuned.

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Moore Road safety plan approved by City-Port Task Force

Newport City Hall
Wednesday evening

The Newport-Port of Newport Moore Road Safety Task Force got an earful Wednesday night from those who favor the safety fixes to Moore Road to make it safer for log truck deliveries to the International Terminal as well as from those totally opposed to Moore Road being used for any such activity citing safety concerns for pedestrians, children and the motoring public.

Task Force Chairman Doug Wills outlined safety enhancements for Highway 20, its intersection with Moore Road, the intersection with the Bay Road and turning into the International Terminal. Wills said the task force is suggesting to the Newport City Council and the Port of Newport that they try to convince ODOT to adjust the speed limits on the final stretch of Highway 20 coming into Newport as it approaches the intersection with Moore Road.   Wills said the 45 mph sign should be moved much father east on the hill coming into town, and the 30 mph sign moved farther east as well – to give all traffic, including log trucks, more time to slow down.  Even as it is, the quick notice on the 30 mph zone doesn’t give log truck drivers, unfamiliar with the area, enough time to stop their very heavy trucks, so they just blow their horns and blow through the intersection.  Wills said it’s quite common.

A suggestion was made by longshoreman union member and long time resident Yale Fogarty that the light at Highway 20 and Harney should be modified to have a momentary four-way red light to keep the intersection clear in anticipation of such occurrences.

The plan also calls for a much longer left turn storage lane for westbound 20 at the light, and a farther downhill stop-line on Moore Road to give turning log trucks more room to turn south onto Moore.  Also, no parking on Moore Road during log truck hours: 6am – 4pm.

At the bottom of the hill at Moore and the Bay Road, the safety plan calls for a new alignment of the intersection so that motorists and truckers entering the intersection can more easily see all traffic; whether it’s coming down Moore, headed west or east on Bay and where the stop signs are.   It’s also in the plan that all signs be hyper-bright LED signs so even on a bright sunny day even tourists unfamiliar with the intersection know exactly where things are and how to navigate the intersection. Also, rumble strips, either imbedded in the pavement or just broad stripes painted on the road could also add an air of enhanced safety as tourists and locals alike travel through the area.

There were many questions surrounding how many log trucks a day would be coming down Moore Road, how many ships a month would be visiting the port and how many jobs would be created by the log export operations. Teevin Brothers’ Eric Teevin said there would would be roughly fifty trucks a day coming down Moore Road and one ship a month taking the logs aboard and transporting them to China and other Asian ports. Teevin predicted somewhere between 40 and 60 full time family wage jobs would be created, and that one ship a month would be it for the foreseeable future.

Still, several residents in the audience got up to say they are adamantly opposed to log trucks using Moore Road. One man, a local doctor with six small children, said his house is right on Moore Road and he fears for his childrens’ safety. He added that he doesn’t look forward to the noise all those trucks will make going down and coming back up that steep stretch of pavement. One woman said she’s opposed to any raw log shipments leaving the U.S. saying “we’re just shipping jobs overseas in exchange for more pollution, threats of invasive species clinging inside and outside the ships, destroying a beautiful neighborhood and making the east end of Newport unfriendly to tourists and harmful to nearby businesses.”

Longshoreman’s union member Tracy Bruchett said as a life-long resident of Newport he couldn’t remember a single bad accident involving log trucks on Moore Road. He said log truck drivers deal with very challenging conditions in the mountains, far worse than anything Moore Road could throw at them. He said Moore Road was built years ago for heavy trucks associated with the port and that its 9″ of asphalt all but guarantees there will be very little, if any vibration in anyone’s home when the trucks drive by. Bruchett claimed that when the log operations begin next Fall, the neighbors will witness with their own eyes and ears just how quiet the trucks are and how much of a bother they aren’t. Others reminded the audience that Newport area voters approved a $15 million bond measure in 2006 to rebuild the International Terminal because they believed it would help create desperately needed jobs for the community.

With that the task force voted unanimously to send their package of Moore Road safety recommendations to the city of Newport, the Port of Newport and to ODOT. A traffic impact study on the project has just been received by the city of Newport and will be posted on the city’s website under “Community Development.”

The Port of Newport will be considering the approval of the Moore Road Safety suggestions at its meeting on January 24th, 6pm at their South Beach Marina office meeting room, and then at the Newport City Council meeting on February 4th, 6pm at city hall.

Just before he gaveled the task force meeting adjourned, Chairman Doug Wills reminded the crowd that with the first phase of their task completed, the task force will now devote all future meetings to finding an alternate route for the trucks so they don’t have to use Moore Road. However, Wills said determining an alternate route may come easier than finding the money required to build it. “But that’s our next mission,” he said.

Save Our Newport group plans next moves against logging trucks coming down Moore Road

Save Our Newport meeting
The Landing, Bay Blvd @ Moore Road

A packed room full of folks mostly opposed to logging trucks going up and down Moore Road made it quite clear recently that they don’t want what they called the danger, the noise and the drop in their property values caused by the commotion the trucks create. Many said they bought their homes long after the heyday of Newport log export operations stopped by the 1990’s. Nobody told them that someday the trucks would return. “It’s just not fair,” one neighbor exclaimed, loudly.

A number of neighbors said they’re all for good paying jobs but not at the expense of their neighborhood and the commercial businesses at the bottom of Moore Road whose operating environment will be unavoidably changed by logging trucks at six minute intervals or less coming down the road, dropping off their loads, and then noisily climbing back up to Highway 20. Others mentioned the dangers of invasive species coming ashore from the logging ships that will tie up at the Port of Newport’s new International Terminal. Others feared more pollution in Yaquina Bay. Others decried the shipment of raw logs to China rather than processing them into finished wood products here in the U.S.

Neighbor Mike Peterson said property values will drop “a good 10%” if the trucks roll as some expect they will in late Spring, when the terminal is finished and all of Teevin Brothers permits are issued and the terminal is officially open for business. Teevin Brothers is a log export company based out of Rainier, OR, on the Columbia River and are said to be close to signing an operations contract with the Port of Newport. Peterson said those concerned about the re-emergence of logging trucks on Moore Road should plan to attend a Newport City Council meeting January 22nd, at city hall – that is if the city has received the Traffic Impact Analysis on the logging truck issue on Moore Road. The study is not yet officially scheduled on the agenda pending receipt of the study. There could be a postponement of the public comment opportunity until there has been enough time for people to find out about it and then make plans to attend a city council meeting possibly in early February. We may know more about the exact date within a week or so.

Tracy Burchett, ILWU
Longshoreman

International Longshore and Warehouse Union member, and life long resident of Newport, Tracy Bruchett told the gathering that he understands the concerns of the neighbors and area businesses but also pointed out that in all the years of logging trucks driving up and down Moore Road there were no serious crashes or loss of life associated with them. Burchett said logging truck drivers are among the most experienced on the roads today and that “navigating the roads in the woods are far more of a challenge than a designated truck route in a city, which Moore Road is,” he said. Burchett also pointed out that the 40+ jobs that are to be created with the logging operation are family wage jobs which means workers are going to be contributing to the local economy, not taking from it. “Besides,” he added, “the voters in and around Newport passed the bond that helped built the terminal as an economic booster for the community.”

Other audience comments ranged from concerns about dusty debarking operations at the terminal, possible contaminated storm water run off into Yaquina Bay and other pollution threats. The city is currently reviewing a storm water management program from Teevin Brothers.

Oly Olson
Member of Joint City-Port Moore Road Task Force

Oly Olson, local community activist who is a member of the City-Port Joint Task Force on the Moore Road project, which will widen the intersection and enhance visibilities, said he understands the concerns of the neighborhood and the businesses at the bottom of the hill. He said safety modifications to the intersection of Moore and Bay Boulevard will help make the intersection more efficiently accommodate the increased traffic. But he also acknowledged the importance of the Port and the City to support an alternate route that would let logging trucks access the port terminal farther to the east, thereby leaving Moore Road alone. Olson said there are ongoing discussions with a trust that owns a considerable amount of timber just east of the terminal that stretches east and west and reaches up to Highway 20. Olson said the trust may be interested in harvesting their timber while accommodating an alternate road for the logging trucks to access the terminal. Olson says talks are very preliminary but that the idea is worth pursuing. Several neighbors indicated they could temporarily put up with the logging trucks knowing that an alternate route is in the near future. Olson said the key element is funding for the road. Olson says there are sources for such funds but competition is fierce.

With that the meeting began to wind up. Everyone acknowledged the need for a strong public relations campaign throughout Newport to drive home the point that the benefits of an economic proposal should not cost more than it provides, in this case jobs versus lower property values, traffic issues, possible drop in tourism counts by those who don’t want to get caught up in a busy logging town, etc. There was talk of hiring an experienced environmental advocacy attorney to help in their cause.

Stay tuned.

International Terminal nearing the end of construction – negotiations with log exporters Teevin Brothers continue for using an area just east of it


Newport’s International Terminal
Artists rendering

*Clarifies use area of Teevin Brothers to the east of the terminal. Teevin use of the Terminal strictly while loading logs onto ships.

After the Newport Port Commissioners Tuesday night meeting, Port Manager Don Mann said negotiations between the port and lumber export company Teevin Brothers of Rainier continue toward a lease agreement for 15 acres of land just east of the Port of Newport International Terminal. Mann said that the terminal project is in its final phases and should be ready for Teevin to begin exporting logs starting in late spring, early summer. Mann said Teevin is expected to make further improvements to the terminal area in the form of extensive new pavement areas just to the east to hold logs while they await shipment overseas.

Other uses of the new International Terminal include commercial fishing vessels and potentially a wider array of users which someday could include tourism ships, use by NOAA operations/maintenance and general commerce.

 

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