County puts final touches on road plan

Hood River County is putting the final touches on a 20-year transportation plan that will pave the way for future growth.

The graphics for the draft plan will be displayed for public review from 6:30-9 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the second floor conference room of the county courthouse. Consultants on the project will give a short presentation at 7:15 p.m.

The plan incorporates the 200 miles of paved roadways within county jurisdiction and area state highways to allow for coordination of long-range improvements.

According to the Oregon State Department of Transportation, 21,400 vehicles travel past Hood River on Interstate 84 each day. Based on 2001 daily counts, between 3,200-6,700 vehicles access the freeway from Highway 35, as high as 16,000 just south of Belmont Avenue on Highway 281 (12th Street), 3,300-4,300 on Highway 282 (Odell Highway) and a range of 116-2,821 each day on other major county roads.

During a three-year period, from Jan. 1, 1998 to Dec. 31, 2000, ODOT recorded 139 crashes along I-84, five with fatalities. In addition, there were 163 reported accidents along Highway 35, two involving fatalities, about 60 wrecks on Highway 281, three involving deaths, and 20 on Highway 282.

With tourism on the rise, county officials are seeking to prevent an increased risk for accidents by using the draft transportation plan to prioritize infrastructure improvements, increase signage and shoulder widths where slow-moving farm equipment meets other traffic, and upgrade highway sections with above average accident rates.

The proposed plan will also bring the county into compliance with Goal 12 of statewide transportation planning rules intended to protect Oregon from the air pollution, traffic and livability problems facing other areas of the country. However, since the rural county does not qualify for the mass transit standards encouraged in heavily populated areas, a greater emphasis in the plan was placed on promoting bicycle and pedestrians networks, according to Josette Griffiths, the county planner overseeing plan development.

The draft plan also calls for the Ken Jernstedt Airfield, owned by the Port of Hood River, to develop an instrument approach and a longer runway, add medium intensity lights and improve its weather reporting capabilities.

This summer the county received a $60,000 grant from ODOT and hired two Portland consulting firms to gather transportation system data and develop technical standards for 11 separate street types.

The compiled information from Cogan, Owens, Cogan and David Evans and Associates was reviewed and fine tuned by a technical advisory committee made up of citizens and local officials from city, county, state and federal agencies.

Griffiths said the updated version of the plan is the completion of work that began several years ago. From 1995-97 the public was included in the process with open houses that were held in Cascade Locks and Hood River, surveys and newsletter distribution.

Griffith said throughout the design of the plan comment has been welcomed from community members about both rural and urban transportation issues.

Special consideration has also been given to protection of scenic landscapes along the Historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway and travel corridors within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

By adopting a transportation systems plan the county will qualify for more state and federal maintenance and improvement funding.

Griffiths said the set standards will also bring uniformity to future improvements since the cities of Cascade Locks and Hood River have already adopted consistent models.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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