Port to poll motorists on bridge work

The Port of Hood River is seeking to keep an upcoming construction project on the aging tollbridge from creating more than minimal crossing delays.

Although some total closures for redecking will be inevitable, the public agency believes it can draft a plan to keep that inconvenience to a minimum, according to Dave Harlan, port director.

To determine the best hours for a shutdown, Harlan said that within the next month, the port will poll bridge users and survey business owners on both sides of the Columbia River.

Harlan said the port is hesitating to follow the recommendation of HNTB Architects Engineering Planners, hired in early 2001 to set up the framework for the renovation, that the bridge be closed from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. during the construction period. He said the Bellevue, Wash., company calculated the longer work period would save both time and money.

However, some Hood River business owners have complained that closing the bridge for the entire night would create an economic hardship since it would take away their Washington clientele.

“Obviously this work will bring some disruption no matter how we do it but the question is whether the disruption is longer or shorter,” Harlan said.

Harlan said the port may follow the same course it took in 2001 when the bridge was closed from 9:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. nightly during lift span repairs and then reopened for 30 minutes before being shutdown for four hours.

“We just haven’t completely decided what we are going to do and want to possibly put together a committee of interested individuals to help study our options,” said Harlan.

He said that group would ideally be made up of commuters and business owners reliant upon interstate trade. On average, Harlan said between 6,000-7,000 vehicles cross over the bridge each day and while the port is trying to accommodate that traffic, it also has to upgrade the structure to ensure safe passage.

The existing decking on the 81-year-old bridge was installed in the 1950s and the nearly $7 million replacement project is expected to take about 176 days with a largely uninterrupted work schedule. Harlan said the actual starting date for the work is still unclear so the port has some time to strike a balance between cost efficiency and the needs of motorists. With only $1.5 million banked away for the project, the port decided to put the work on hold while it lobbied for federal funding to help offset expenses.

He said even when the bridge is shut down to regular travel, contingency plans are being made that will allow one lane to be reopened quickly in an emergency.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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