Editorial: Attention to safety needed even though the freeway looks like it's finished

October 22, 2011

The new alignment at Interstate 84's exit 64 takes some getting used to, but the final touches are in sight on the two-year project.

Patience is in order, to last two or three weeks longer. Traffic is almost, but not quite, ready to return to normal.

The temporary, restricted freeway entry pattern - from exit 63 eastbound and from exit 64 westbound - is still in place, even though the temporary barriers have been removed. Note that there is a solid line between the single I-84 through line and the on-ramp lanes. Drivers still need to travel through exit 64 heading east, and through exit 63 heading west, for the next two to three weeks.

Abutting the freeway work is the Hood River interstate bridge painting project. Crews will need to knock off for the season as soon as the weather turns truly cold and damp.

Crews have been fortunate to have (mostly) dry and (sufficiently) warm weather in the first half of autumn. Doing the work in shorter daylight hours has created longer delays, and this comes in combination with the lane reductions necessary at the neighboring exit 64 project.

"Both have jobs to do, and both are important," said Michael McElwee, port executive director. "We definitely heard from people who are concerned about the backups and delays, but the good news is exit 64 is nearly done.

"We need to take advantage of good weather for painting, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be as coordinated as we can. We recognize it's important we minimize (delays)," McElwee said.

The more painting gets done this fall, the less intrusion motorists will experience this spring when the paint crew comes back.

While the rubber hits the road at exit 64, the county's Interchange Access Management Plan (IAMP) is still on the drawing board, but it could have long-range implications for the freeway as it passes through and connects with the city and the county The County Planning Commission continues its public hearing on the IAMP Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the County Business Administration Building (first floor conference room) at 601 State St. in Hood River.

ODOT studied the need for improvements to the three interchanges in Hood River (exits 62, 63 and 64). The result of the study is two Interchange Area Management Plans, one for exit 62 and one for exits 63 and 64.

The plan includes transportation improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as cars and trucks. In addition, the management plans guide how access to properties adjacent to the interchanges should be handled and how city and county streets will be improved to meet access requirements.

Despite the reference to exits 62-64, the IAMP study area goes far beyond the freeway exits. It extends to Rand Road to the west, taking in May Street, Frankton Road, 30th Street and the urban growth boundary.

There's seemingly no end to the question of "Can we all get around?"

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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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