WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Keeping everybody safer on our streets and highways

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The AARP refresher class for all licensed Oregon drivers will be held in Lincoln City on April 18-19 (Thursday – Friday) from 1 to 4 PM both days at the Lincoln City Community Center on NE Oar. Pl. The new 6 hour course is now recognized by the State Department of Motor Vehicles as eligible for the insurance discount for seniors age 55 and over.

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The instructor will cover many topics, including the new driver and pedestrian laws; changes in vision and hearing as driver’s age and tips for handling these changes; reaction times; driving in inclement weather; collisions and how to avoid them; video presentations; and many more subjects helping those attending to become better and safer drivers.

Class size is limited, so reservations should be made. For reservations contact Lincoln City Parks & Recreation at: 541-994-2131. There is a fee (to cover supplies) of $14. If you are an AARP member, the cost is $12. The check should be made out to AARP.

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State legislature ponders making “left lanes” on freeways for passing only. No more left lane hogs?

Glenn Jackson Bridge Crossing Columbia River

Glenn Jackson Bridge
Crossing Columbia River

A bill in the state legislature would outlaw using a freeways left-most lane except when passing. It’s been a pet complaint among most “lively” drivers that the most frustrating thing is to be caught behind traffic in the right lane(s) only to be also blocked by a driver “camped out” in the outter left lane. Well, for some, justice may be on the way from Salem. Here’s the story in the Oregonian. Click here.

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Getting our kids to school SAFELY! “Safe Routes to School”

Safe Routes to School Newport Rec Center

Safe Routes to School
Newport Rec Center

Creating safe routes to school

Creating safe routes to school

Walking/biking is exercise Reduces child obesity Students arrive ready to focus on learning

Walking/biking is exercise
Reduces child obesity
Students arrive ready to focus on learning


Safe Routes to School program

A group that wants to ensure that Lincoln County school children get to and from school safely put their heads together recently to come up with a plan to do just that – and it’s not about putting more cars on the road. In fact, quite the opposite.

The Safe Routes to Schools organization, which partners with the Oregon Department of Transportation, is making the rounds of Oregon communities to develop local walking and biking routes that are safe and convenient for students. School safety personnel, along with law enforcement, streets, trails and other public officials laid out their challenges for all Lincoln County students to be able to get to and from school on their own, without a flotilla of “mom vans” clogging streets and school pick-up and drop-off areas. They also acknowledged that walking and biking to school is healthier for kids. Not only does it help to prevent childhood obesity, children arrive at school after having done some exercise that results in a calmer frame of mind that helps children focus on learning.

Ideas to improve walking and biking conditions around Lincoln County included:

* Toledo High – Entry drive/walkway hill is not safe. No sidewalk, steep edges/drop offs, narrow road. No sidewalk on Sturdavent leading to school.
* Toledo Elementary – Limited sidewalk access on Sturdavent – only to the south.
* Newport High and Newport Intermediate – No sidewalk on 4th in front of Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
* Waldport High – Elementary – No sidewalk along Crestline to school. New high school will increase traffic from parents driving students, as well as student drivers. Lower speed limit near the schools. Raised crosswalks over highways, install crosswalk warning lights, create bike trails.
* Install flashing school zone lights on Crestline.
* Taft High and Taft Elementary – Wider shoulders along Highways 101 and 18 from Otis area. More sidewalks.
* Safety education for walkers, rights of way issues, crosswalk laws.
* Staff/volunteers needed for crossing guard training, vests, handheld flags and signs.
* Oceanlake Elementary – Need two handheld stop/slow signs.
* Bikers/walkers need to be educated about safety and traffic rules – vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
* Everyone needs to learn about “Safe Routes to School.”
* Promote healthy benefits of walking/biking to school.
* Map neighborhoods to reveal challenges and opportunities.
* Plan “Bike to School” events.
* Coordinate special promotions for bike, clothing and helmet give-aways.
* Recruit volunteers to assist walkers/bikers.
* Create “group sites” to coordinate walking.

Comments from the group included some frustration that sidewalks, rights of way, highway crossings and the like require full-blown plans before being qualified for grants, much less permits for construction. Plans cost money to produce, they said, and it makes it harder when the Safe Routes to School program requires plans for projects five to ten years down the road. “That’s well beyond our time line for local projects here in Newport,” said Public Works Director Tim Gross.

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A Safe Route to Schools official said they understand the predicament but quickly added that there are many other tactics that schools and their communities can use to make routes to school more safe for students – like asking law enforcement to concentrate on school zones during times children are going to and from school. A deputy sheriff quickly replied “We’re very thin on patrols as it is. Budgets are tight. Officers don’t come out of thin air.” Response: “Then think about using reserve officers as deterrents – have them write down license plate numbers and send a letter to the registered owner that their vehicle was speeding in a school zone on such and such a date. They’ll get the message.” The suggestion was made that mobile radar trailers be used more consistently in school zones around the county. Public Works Director Tim Gross chimed in that getting creative with street striping can also slow down traffic if it narrows ‘perceived’ lane widths. It’s cheap to do.

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Another suggestion was to contact parents or other adults who might like to monitor student commutes to school, provide guidance and to raise the level of safety while enroute.

Safe Routes to School officials said the next step will be for schools to do more outreach to students and parents to determine what impediments exist that discourages walking and biking to school. After that, create an action plan and take meaningful steps to enact changes that makes biking and walking to school more safe and enjoyable.

More meetings to come to keep the momentum going.

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OSP trying to head off “Roadway Departure Crashes”

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Oregon State Police Troopers will be stepping up their patrols along Oregon Highways where there is a high incidence of vehicles simply leaving the road and injuring or killing the occupants. These accidents are said to be caused primarily to speeding, failing to maintaining a lane, failure to drive on the right side of the highway, distracted driving and drunk driving.

Troopers say that that 53% of all fatal crashes nationwide are caused by ‘roadway departure’ crashes. But in Oregon it’s 66%, fully two-thirds. They offer a list of which Oregon Highways contributing to this lamentable figure:

* Highway 26 (east of Sandy) milepost 28 – 37 and milepost 45 – 55 (OSP Portland / Government Camp)
* Highway 101 (Bay City south of Tillamook) milepost 61 – 67 and 76 – 81 (OSP Tillamook)
* Highway 6 (east of Tillamook) milepost 10 – 16 (OSP Tillamook)
* Highway 6 (west of Banks) milepost 30 – 36 (OSP North Plains)
* Highway 26 (east of Seaside) milepost 10 – 15 and milepost 20 – 26 (OSP Astoria)
* Highway 101 (between Depoe Bay and Newport) milepost 127 – 133 (OSP Newport)
* Highway 101 (south of Newport) milepost 148 – 154 (OSP Newport)
* Highway 18 (east of Highway 101) milepost 0 – 10 (OSP Newport)
* Highway 20 (east of Newport) milepost 0 – 5 (OSP Newport)
* Highway 34 (east of Waldport) milepost 0 – 5 (OSP Newport)
* Highway 42 (west of Winston) milepost 75 – 77 (OSP Roseburg)
* Highway 38 (east of Coos Bay) milepost 0 – 10 (OSP Coos Bay)
* Highway 199 (north of Cave Junction) milepost 14 – 24 (OSP Grants Pass)
* Interstate 5 (north of Grants Pass) milepost 70 – 80 (OSP Central Point / Grants Pass)
* Highway 97 (north of Bend) milepost 128 – 133 (OSP Bend)
* Highway 97 (south of Bend) milepost 143 – 158 (OSP Bend / La Pine)
* Highway 20 (west of Sisters) milepost 92 – 97 (OSP Bend)
* Highway 26 (west of Madras) milepost 107 – 112 (OSP Bend / Madras)

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As you can see, the Central Coast has a number of roadways that are targeted for stepped up OSP visibility and patrolling through the end of September. ODOT awarded OSP grant funds to provide over 1,600 hours of overtime enforcement through the end of September 2013. ODOT identified the highway locations after they reviews crash information that point at crash types, causes, dates, days and time of days/nights of occurrence. It is hoped that either through specialized law enforcement or modifications to roadways that these deadly fatality rates might come down.

To learn more about these efforts, click here.

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ODOT Commission expected to formally decide January 16 to complete Highway 20 project despite higher costs, coping with higher PERS costs, and “ponying up” for economic opportunities.

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Oregon Department of Transportation officials laid out for the Toledo City Council Tuesday evening what appears to be the way forward to completing the Highway 20 Eddyville to Pioneer Mountain Loop Bypass. The project is years late and many millions of dollars over budget.

They said on January 16th the Oregon Transportation Commission will be reviewing what is described as the preferred alternative to complete the project. The plan involves a full year of studying groundwater flows and hillslide slippage across critical hillside areas of the bypass. Armed with that data, they will drive a series of ground anchors to nail the foot of the hills to deeper, more sturdy soils and rock deep within the hills. ODOT officials said that this particular alternative, with good groundwater and slippage data, they will know where to drive the ground anchors and exactly how many.

But if they tried to meet a 2015 completion date of the project they would have to be satisfied with only a part of one winter’s data. Possessing only a partial picture of winter groundwater loading on the slopes, they would likely have to install more ground anchors than are truly needed, “just to be safe.” By extending the data collection through this winter and next, engineers predict they could save up to $20 million or more by driving only the number of ground anchors that are actually needed. But it would also require the road open in 2016, a year later.

ODOT staff emphasized that the engineers leading the project today are guided by some of the best landslide geologists and engineers in the world with many challenging projects successfully completed under their belts. They said the department has a great deal of confidence in their consultants, which some Salem transportation insiders have dubbed “The Dream Team.”

Most central coast residents have had a dream of their own, that some day they’ll drive to and from the valley more quickly and safely. They cautiously anticipate the project’s completion in 2016.

The Oregon Transporation Commission convenes their meeting early Wednesday morning, January 16th, in the ODOT building on the Capitol Complex in Salem.

Toledo City Council
Tuesday evening

The Toledo City Council also got a report from Treasurer Polly Chavarria that rising Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) rates the city pays to Salem are still being partially supported by a city reserve fund which should last another five years. But after that the city’s general fund would have to shoulder any further increases on its own which could have substantial impacts on other city departments. Chavarria said it would be possible to juggle things a bit and have the subsidies last ten years instead of five, but it would require heavier hits to the general fund sooner rather than later.

City Councilor Jill Lyons suggested that staff devise a plan so the reserve fund is never drawn down so that it would soften any sudden rate increases in the future. Chavarria said they will explore that option but reminded Councilor Lyons that Governor Kitzhaber, PERS and other major players in the PERS reform movement are contemplating a number of fixes that could directly affect Toledo and other city and county methods of coping with rising retirement costs for employees.

And the council tentatively decided to chip in one thousand dollars toward an ocean observation conference being put on by the Yaquina Bay Ocean Observation Initiative (YBOOI) later next month in Newport. Councilors had earlier been asked by YBOOI co-founder John Lavrakis to contribute two thousand dollars to help defray conference costs but councilors thought two thousand was a bit steep for the city’s strapped budget. So when the council meets again later this month they are expected to formally decide to make it one thousand dollars while also hitting up other Toledo ocean-dependent industries for contributions aimed at the conference. The conference has invited a number of ocean observing and marine science equipment and boat repair and refurbishment companies to take a grand tour of the Greater Newport/Yaquina Bay and River region with an eye to relocating here or expanding service levels that are already here. The Port of Toledo is in the middle of a large expansion of their boat yard at Sturgeon Bend that will soon be able to work on 98% of all commercial fishing vessels that ply the waters of the U.S. West Coast and Alaska.

Group forms to oppose logging trucks using Moore Road down to Bay, then to the Port Terminal


Moore Road and Moore at Bay Boulevard

A group of local business people and residents are meeting this Saturday to explore ways to deal with plans that could put over 100 logging trucks a day down Moore Road, turn east on Bay Road and into the Port of Newport’s new Industrial Terminal. Teevin Brothers, one of Oregon’s largest log exporting firms, plans to begin routing fully loaded logging trucks to Newport and have those logs shipped to the Far East starting in late Spring.

Dee Shannon, who has been a primary organizer of the group says logging trucks and residential areas don’t mix. Shannon says her condominium and hotel property will be hurt by the dramatic increase in truck traffic on Moore and Bay Roads. “Less visitors means lower incomes for everyone in Newport, one way or another,” she said. “We think that the city and port task force addressing traffic safety concerns doesn’t get to the main point – the trucks don’t belong on Moore road.”

However, Port of Newport officials have stated repeatedly in the past that Moore Road was built to truck traffic standards and with modifications to the intersection of Moore and Bay Roads, the trucks and the motoring public can be accommodated safely. They say log exports were an industrial mainstay in the Newport area for decades but ceased in the mid-90’s. In short, industrial access to the terminal was here first. Task Force members have also stated that Moore Road is seen only as a temporary route until a permanent one can be established and a funding source for it can be obtained. No one has ventured a guess as to how long that might take, but top officials have stated that the Terminal Task Force is now focusing on ascertaining where that alternative route should be constructed and how to pay for it. The say obtaining large grants through economic development sources and state lottery proceeds are part of the mix.

But Shannon says she’s not convinced. She observes that “Once Moore Road is handling the log truck traffic and the log operations are in full swing, there will be little incentive for the city or the port to follow through on their commitment to establish a permanent alternative route which is likely to be very expensive. We want the port and the city to get moving on the real route first and not disrupt our neighborhoods and businesses with large, loud logging trucks.” Shannon adds, “Everybody is for economic development and more jobs, but unless we do this project right, its benefits will be severely reduced by its damaging impact on the community.”

Shannon says her group, “Citizens to Save Newport,” invites anyone in the public interested in the issue to attend their next meeting scheduled for Saturday, January 5th, 10am at The Landing, located at the intersection of Moore and Bay Roads. Come in through the lobby and it’s the meeting area right upstairs. Their number is 541-574-6777.

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