Exit 64 project nears completion

October 26, 2011

The exit 64 project at Interstate 84 approaches its last stages.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the last two weeks of what has been a two-year process of widening and reshaping one of the Gorge's busiest transportation intersections.

Motorists are finding new traffic flow patterns where Button Bridge Road connects Highway 30 to the Hood River port and Marketplace, Hood River Interstate Bridge and the interstate.

Signs reading "Button Bridge Road are among the numerous changes seen at exit 64; the well-used local terms for the curving road leading to and from exit 64 have long been "Button Bridge" and "Button Bridge Road". Now, for the first time, there are signs so designating that section of Highway 35 between Highway 30 and the bridge across the Columbia River.

Permanent striping is now in place delineating the through-traffic and turning lanes onto the freeway and to destinations such as downtown Hood River, the interstate bridge and the marina complex.

On the freeway itself, 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.

Flaggers will reroute traffic in the next two weeks in order to complete three details: curbing on the west side of Button Bridge Road, installing "loops" in the asphalt (the strips cars drive over to activate signals) and completion of sidewalks and pedestrian amenities at the southeast corner of the project.

Pedestrians, take note: Crosswalks are officially closed until the project is finished. "Not in service" signs still cover the crosswalk signals.

However, once the project is done, it will be possible to walk from Highway 30, down Button Bridge Road, under the freeway, and to the marina and Marketplace areas.

An ODOT crew continued work Friday on a curb "island" next to the eastbound onramp to I-84. A pedestrian lane will bisect the island, connecting the Button Bridge sidewalk to the pedestrian way underneath the freeway.

Flagging update

Port Executive Directyor Michael McElwee acknowledges "some very bad days in the last week" at exit 64 and the interstate bridge.

ODOT interchange project and the port bridge repainting work that have gone on simultaneously on all summer have resulted in heightened traffic delays through exit 64 via the bridge and Button Bridge Road.

He said "a combination of factors" led to the delays, including the need by the painting crew to take advantage of as much dry and warm weather as possible.

"The two flagging operations are in touch when operations are planned, in particular any construction that restricts the traffic flow," he said. "The painting project has been fairly smooth," with minimal backups in the last part of the summer, McElwee said.

"But in the past week, painting contractors have worked later because days are shorter; so they are demobilized a bit later in the afternoon," he added.

Most importantly, the flagging at I-84 has reduced the volume of traffic, especially southbound.

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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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