Residents say North Bend transportation plan needs to look at morning traffic

Citizens and council members alike last week raised several concerns with North Bend's plans to update its transportation portion of the Comprehensive Plan.

The comments on the update, which is contracted out to Perteet, Inc., came during the city's March 1 council meeting. The transportation update will complete over the next seven months, and has a preliminary scope of work that includes plans for a downtown parking inventory, traffic counts at 16 locations, and tracking of commercial truck traffic during late evening hours at up to three locations. There will also be at least three opportunities for public input, one open house after the initial data gathering, one after the plan is drafted, and a public hearing before final adoption of the plan.

Plans to monitor only p.m. peak traffic volumes were a sticking point.

Council member Jeanne Pettersen asked for confirmation that the scope was simply an initial proposal at this point, and could change. "I'm thinking particularly for exit 34, we've had input from citizens and we've discussed it as well, that we'd probably want to include a.m. hours, and the school traffic as well."

Public Works Director Ron Garrow agreed that the scope was just an initial proposal, but added that, because people staggered their work times in the morning, the "true peak" came in the evening. "But in our plan we also talked about looking at the traffic during evening hours, for when trucks start coming to the truck stop, and also there's some discussion about impacts by schools... It will definitely be looked at, but just off the top of my head, I don't perceive the issue with the school in the morning, but there will definitely be some issues we have to address with the real late evening/early morning truck traffic."

Pettersen disagreed, saying there was an issue with morning traffic at that exit, and several citizens spoke on the same topic.

"All of us up there are very concerned about this," said resident Jeff Martine. "I think some of us are concerned... that you may not fully grasp the magnitude of the problems up at exit 34.... I think the matter of the a.m. peak is very real." He also called for a regional freight mobility plan to be incorporated into the city's traffic study.

"The activity that goes on up there is in the morning," said resident Sherwood Korssjoen. "It's in significant conflict with both the labor force that comes from our community, and the students that are moving back and forth to those schools, so I would ask you to please pay attention to that."

Resident Tom Proll was concerned that the traffic study would not include the tourist-heavy spring and summer months.

"You'll see a tremendous increase in traffic east of town, especially around exit 34.... it's going to continue to grow, so I think we need to take into account," he said.

Most speakers were disappointed that the citizens hadn't been included in the scoping for the transportation plan. City Administrator Duncan Wilson emphasized that the scope was preliminary and there would be several opportunities for public input throughout the process.

Almost every speaker echoed Martine's comments about the need for a regional freight mobility plan, too. Council member Chris Garcia noted that this plan "is beyond just the city of North Bend," and while the city is actively pursuing the plan, it doesn't have the clout to advance it without participation from other organizations, including the state.

A regional freight mobility plan is considered a pre-requisite to additional trucking service growth at Tanner.

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