State to revamp I-84 interchanges


News staff writer

June 3, 2006

The clock strikes 5 p.m. on a weekday and a line of cars forms at the Hood River Bridge as traffic begins to back up near Exit 64.

This daily scenario will be the focus for at least a year of study and analysis through the Oregon Department of Transportation, which began the process on Thursday.

The agency issued a request for proposals from contractors to select a firm that will analyze how to alter exits 62, 63, and 64 off the I-84 highway.

The process will focus primarily on the exits but also examine how to resolve traffic problems between I-84, the city of Hood River, and the waterfront. ODOT senior planner Michael Ray said once the consultant is selected, they will examine the needs of the area.

“One part is to look at local street traffic and how to get it to move better,” he said. “With exits 63 and 64, the problem in Hood River is a lot of people use it as a local street rather than a freeway exit.”

One solution to that problem might be the construction of Frontage Road to span the Hood River and provide a crossing from one part of the waterfront to another without having to get on the highway. But Ray was careful to say that no firm plans have been made and that the process is in the very first stages of research.

Whatever firm ODOT chooses, their work may include some possible revisions to comprehensive plans and zoning. Among some of the other problems in the area, Ray cited the interconnection between the Exit 64 off-ramp and traffic at peak times across the Hood River Bridge to White Salmon. He cited the spacing at the Port of Hood River’s toll plaza.

“That backup (onto the freeway) creates a safety problem,” he said. “It was not built to handle the volume of traffic it does today,” he said.

The Port of Hood River has been working on plans to upgrade the plaza with bids for construction expected to go out in August. The port will also start its own planning process later this summer by choosing a firm to study the Frontage Road project.

“Our study will be from a civil engineering point of view: Is there room for the road? Can we clear the Hood River or would the bridge need to go in the water?” said Budget officer Linda Shames. “It is a separate process from ODOT’s but if a road goes in that would affect the interchange plans.”

Shames said the decision of when to start the Frontage Road study will be up to new Port of Hood River Director Michael McElwee. He begins in his position July 1.

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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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