GB cop wrecks

Gold Beach Police officer Andrew Neason and a citizen ride-along passenger were not injured Tuesday afternoon in an incident in which the officer’s car ended up on its side south of the bridge in Gold Beach.

According to Oregon State Patrol Dave Aydelotte, Neason was conducting traffic enforcement near Tom Cat Hill when he spotted a northbound vehicle and misjudged the U-turn to pursue the vehicle. The vehicle then hit a curb and went down a steep side embankment before rolling on its side.

Neason was not cited.

Highway project update

A variety of U.S. 101 projects will begin or continue throughout the remainder of the year, Oregon Department of Transportation officials said Friday.

Most recently, ODOT crews have been working with Tidewater Contractors to replace a quarter-mile section of U.S. 101 at Hooskanaden Slide, where torrential rain storms washed the roadway away in late February.

U.S. 101 is currently limited to a single-lane gravel road with flaggers at either end to control traffic. Delays at Hooskanaden have been short, but with rain falling Friday and forecast through the weekend, officials are monitoring the slide area to ensure it doesn’t start slipping again.

Delays could be extended if more rock and gravel needs to be placed on the temporary road if it starts to move.

Weather permitting, officials hope to have a second gravel lane built in early April; a permanent fix, to replace the road to its original configuration, isn’t likely to occur until the fall.

Painting of the Thomas Creek Bridge eight miles north of Brookings is entering its final stages after years of work there. The $10 million project remains limited to a single lane of traffic until this summer.

A temporary signal remains in place to provide traffic control.

North of Port Orford, paving and bridge repairs costing $5.2 million, will involve paving five miles of U.S. 101 between Childers Road to Garrison Slough.

The speed limit has been reduced to 40 mph at milepost 295, the one-mile section of highway between Crystal Creek and Sixes River.

Watch for intermittent weekday lane closures and brief delays throughout the project area as the contractor continues with bridge work. Flaggers will provide traffic control as needed.

Stop sign on Railroad?

The Brookings City Council will discuss whether to pay for a traffic feasibility study or drop the idea altogether to make Wharf Street and Railroad Avenue a four-way-stop intersection after residents in the area have complained about congestion there.

A feasibility study would run about $15,000 to $20,000, noted City Manager Janell Howard in a memo to the council.

The meeting will be held at city hall Monday at 7 p.m.

The Cove resident and homeowner’s association president Paul Whitworth told the council at a workshop earlier this month that it’s not a speed, but congestion, issue, with drivers often having to wait long extra minutes to get onto Railroad Street from the side streets.

It’s exacerbated by the busyness created by Bi-Mart, the post office, KidZone, city shops and increasingly popular visits to Chetco Point Park at the end of Wharf Street. A pedestrian crosswalk with a warning light also contributes to the confusion there.

The city installed a traffic-data gathering device last year near Wharf and Railroad streets to count the number of vehicles that pass through the area every day, said Public Works and Development Director Tony Baron.

In a 10-day period, 27,512 vehicles went through the intersection, Baron said. Of those, 49 cars were traveling faster than 35 mph; the posted speed limit is 25 mph.

The figures mean more than 2,700 cars drive through the area every day, or 112 an hour. Given those statistics are over a 24-hour period, and there are fewer cars in the wee hours of the night, the daytime traffic crush is much higher, Whitworth noted.

He also wondered how much traffic will increase along Railroad Street when the summer tourism season begins.

State: 63 percent raise?

Oregon lawmakers are considering raising their annual pay by nearly $20,000, a move the sponsors say will attract more diverse candidates to the statehouse, and would make Oregon legislators among the highest paid in the country, according to a report by KDRV-TV.

"We're a diverse state, we need a diverse legislature," Sen. Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, one of the legislators leading the effort, told Oregon Public Broadcasting. "Because of the low pay, we are automatically screening out people who really should be represented here."

The move comes after a 28 percent legislative pay raise went into effect Feb. 1. Lawmakers were not behind that raise, and the increase was tied to collective bargaining agreements that affected nearly 40,000 state employees.

Legislators now make $31,200, plus an extra $149 a day when the Legislature is in session every other year. Burdick proposes a measure that would raise wages by 63 percent, to more than $50,000 per year.

Burdick, a Democrat from Portland, said that the current pay isn't a living wage and makes more likely that retirees or independently wealthy candidates pursue office. She noted that legislators make far less than some city and county elected officials.

The last pay raise will cost Oregon $1.6 million every two years, amid demands for cuts across all state programs while trying to find more money for schools and health care.

Burdick acknowledges the plan will likely be politically unpopular, but maintains it's necessary to create a well-rounded statehouse that better reflects state demographics.

"This is not a get-rich-quick scheme down here," she said. "This is public service. But if it gets to the point where you can't feed your family, that's where the problem is."

No studs

Oregon drivers are reminded to remove studded tires by midnight March 31.

“Drivers are encouraged to not wait until the March 31 deadline to remove their studded tires especially if they aren’t driving in the mountain passes between now and then,” said Luci Moore, state maintenance and operations engineer.

While studded tires are allowed in Oregon by law from Nov. 1 through March 31, ODOT encourages drivers to consider using other types of traction tires or to use chains to help minimize roadway damage caused by studded tires. A 2014 study concluded studded tires cause about $8.5 million in damage each year to state highways.

In addition to chains or studded tires, other types of traction tires are available. These traction tires meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association standards for use in severe snow conditions and carry an emblem on the tire sidewall of a three-peaked mountain with a snowflake in the center. Research shows these tires cause no more damage than standard all-weather radial tires and that they provide better traction than studded tires when used on bare pavement.

Drivers with studded tires on their vehicles after the March 31 deadline can be charged by law enforcement with a Class C traffic violation.

ODOT maintenance crews will continue to monitor highways and weather forecasts and work to clear any late-season snow or ice as soon as possible. Officials say if you must travel when weather conditions present difficulties after March 31, use other types of traction tires or chains, or postpone your travel until conditions improve.

Know Before You Go: You can visit www.TripCheck.com or call 511 for the latest road conditions.

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