Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Hope remains alive for Hood River to keep some direct access to Country Club Road.
After months of the Oregon Department of Transportation telling Hood River that an access lane — for cars coming from the exit 62 overpass to Country Club Road — was out of the question, ODOT may be changing course.
And it all seems to be over a misunderstanding about exactly how each side defined a “slip lane.”
Hood River City Manager Bob Francis advocated to ODOT for a slip lane, along with winery and farm owners that use Country Club as an important corridor for truck and tourist traffic.
According to Francis, the slip lane would allow exit 62 vehicles and overpass traffic entering Hood River a right-hand turn onto Country Club Road. The “slip” would use the existing road, making it one-way and exclude vehicle left-hand turns from Cascade.
Francis said he had been told by ODOT that the city could lose $3 million in funding for the project by adding the slip lane concept to the project.
Late last week, though, Hood River got some help from its state legislators in sorting through the matter.
Rep. Mark Johnson and Sen. Chuck Thomsen requested a meeting with ODOT head Matthew Garrett and Region 1 manager Jason Tell to ask them about ODOT’s reasoning for disallowing a right-hand turn access to Country Club for vehicles coming across the overpass or exiting the freeway.
According to Thomsen, ODOT representatives told him they understood a “slip lane” to be an added lane of traffic over the overpass and freeway off ramp and on to Country Club.
“They said they absolutely could not do that,” Thomsen said.
Johnson and Thomsen explained that the city did not want an extra lane. Instead the city wants to see traffic limited to a right-hand turn onto Country Club from the overpass, while not allowing eastbound traffic to go from Country Club to Cascade or to allow left-hand turns from Cascade onto Country Club.
“When we described it as a right turn off the freeway, they said they hadn’t thought of that,” Thomsen said.
Francis said the ODOT will go back and review its traffic numbers “over the next week or so” and will then likely make a site visit to determine if right-hand turn after the overpass is feasible.
ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said that any changes to the Interchange Access Management Plan, which the city signed off on in 2011, would be complicated and could be expensive.
“You lose some of the real advantages of this plan even if you keep it open for only the right-hand turn for that road,” Hamilton said.
However, he added that ODOT representatives would continue to discuss options with Thomsen and Johnson.
Vehicles traveling on Cascade from downtown Hood River would have to turn onto Mt. Adams Street, turn right on a yet-to-be-named road, and then turn left on Country Club in order to access the road.
(See graphic and project description, this page.)
However, getting to Hood River’s wineries and orchards from the freeway would still be a simple task if the right-turn-only designated slip lane was added.
“I don’t think this would be a real costly thing for (ODOT),” Thomsen said. “They were open to taking a right turn onto it.”
Francis said he hopes that city representatives can meet with ODOT representatives when they inspect the site so that everyone can get on the same page.
“I could see where the nomenclature confused both parties,” he said. “I think if we are sitting on the ground with them we can tell them and show them exactly what we want.”
Francis said that with more time now needed to see if the slip lane possibility will work out, a public hearing on the renaming of a new portion of road between Country Club and Mt. Adams will likely be continued until more details are finalized.
He also added that if the slip lane comes to fulfillment, it would be unlikely the new portion of road would be able to be named Country Club Road, as the portion of Country Club accessing Cascade Avenue would not be completely closed off.
Regardless of what the section of road is named, Francis and Thomsen were glad to see some positive movement on the slip lane discussion.
“It was a positive meeting,” Thomsen said. “Hopefully this can be a win-win for everyone. Sometimes I don’t feel good coming out of those meetings but this time I did.”
Work on the Country Club realignment is continuing and Francis said the new section of road, which will run from Mt. Adams Avenue to Country Club, could be open as soon as September. The project must be completed by the end of the year.
Crestline Construction will be conducting blasting on the site Wednesday, March 6, to loosen up some of the rock in the construction area. Drivers should expect the possibility of traffic delays on Country Club and West Cascade around 1 p.m. that day during blasting operations.
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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