OTC resolves to make Historic Trail completion a ‘priority’

The completion of the Historic Columbia River State Highway Trail is an endeavor that has enjoyed wide public support, but finding enough money to finish the ambitious project hasn’t been as easy to come by.

However, a recent resolution unanimously passed by members of the Oregon Transportation Commission names the project’s completion “a priority” for the Oregon Department of Transportation as well as “a project of statewide and national significance” — statements ODOT officials hope will catch the attention of federal grant programs that might help fund construction for the trail’s remaining sections.

The trail is the second life for the Historic Columbia River Highway, which was completed in 1922 and ran from Troutdale to The Dalles before falling out of favor with motorists and into disrepair after Interstate 84 was completed in the 1960s. ODOT has been refurbishing and reconstructing the highway — part of which is a trail for non-motor vehicle use — since the late 1980s and is in the process of seeking funding to construct the final 10 miles of trail from Wyeth to Hood River. According to Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway, approximately $55 million is still needed for the trail work, which is likely still several years away from completion.

The OTC resolution notes both the federal and state governments have directed ODOT to complete this project and orders ODOT to “develop federal funding requests and identify any required funding matching funds to take advantage of any grant opportunities.” It also mentions that the trail has been backed by Gorge communities, which stand to reap additional benefits from a bike-tourism industry that already brings in an estimated $46 million annually to the region.

Though the resolution may be somewhat short on actionable items, ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton says having the unanimous endorsement of the state’s transportation agency will provide a “big boost” and cause the federal government to take notice of the project.

“It will be part of the consideration for federal and state funding,” he explained. “It’s going to mean a lot when applying for federal grants.”

Planning for the final leg of the trail is already complete and ODOT intends to begin geotechnical work needed to analyze the subsurface conditions of the highway by this spring. Construction of a 1.25-mile segment of trail from Starvation Creek to Lindsey Creek is expected to begin spring 2015 after the geotechnical work is completed, with an anticipated public opening in spring 2016.

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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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