Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, June 26, 2019, Page A12, Image 12

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    STANFIELD
A12 • HERMISTONHERALD.COM
Stanfi eld considers
joining ‘road diet’ trend
By JADE MCDOWELL
NEWS EDITOR
Stanfi eld might put High-
way 395 on a diet, but it has
nothing to do with counting
calories.
The “road diet” is a solu-
tion the Oregon Department
of Transportation has begun
implementing for some cit-
ies where a major high-
way sends traffi c speeding
through the center of town.
To force more drivers to go
the speed limit, the depart-
ment narrows down the
lanes of travel — in Stan-
fi eld’s case, from fi ve lanes
to three.
ODOT is planning a
major repaving project
along Highway 395 through
downtown Stanfi eld, adding
traffi c-calming features such
as stamped concrete cross-
walks, wheel chair ramps
and “bulb-outs” extending
the sidewalk further into
intersections, in an effort
to signal to drivers that
they are crossing through a
town and should slow down
accordingly.
“A common problem, as
you guys are aware of, is
when you have a fi ve-lane
highway through a town
people speed,” ODOT engi-
neer Bryan Strasser told
the Stanfi eld City Coun-
cil during a presentation on
Tuesday. “When we think
of traffi c calming, we think
of things that signal to the
driver that they can’t just go
ripping down the highway.”
He told the council he
believed Stanfi eld would
benefi t from a road diet as
well, keeping the center
turn lane but going down
from two lanes of travel on
either side to just one in each
direction.
The city council was
on board with the other
improvements, but wanted
more information and input
from the public before com-
mitting to the road diet part
of the plan.
Strasser said he was skep-
tical of the road diet method
at fi rst, but after seeing it
work in Milton-Freewater
he was a fan.
ODOT worked with Mil-
ton-Freewater last summer
to take the section of High-
way 11 that makes up South
Main Street from two lanes
in each direction to one lane
in each direction plus a cen-
ter turn lane. The city turned
the extra space in the right-
of-way into a bike lane and
additional parking.
City manager Linda
Hall told the East Orego-
nian that the city agreed to
the plan because they were
concerned about pedestrian
safety, particularly after
passing a school bond that
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
The Oregon Department of Transportation is considering
implementing a “road diet” plan to reduce traffi c speeds
through downtown Stanfi eld.
would lead to more children
trying to cross the highway.
“Traffi c has slowed
down,” she said. “It’s been
very, very successful for
Milton-Freewater.
We’re
very happy with it.”
There had been a few
complaints from residents,
she said, but overall the city
had worked hard to do cit-
izen outreach and demon-
strate the benefi ts of helping
traffi c slow down through
the city.
“Before, when you would
park on South Main you
would literally take your life
in your hands trying to open
your driver’s side door and
get out into traffi c,” she said.
Milton-Freewater
has
upward of 3,000 more
vehicles per day traveling
through compared to Stan-
fi eld, but a higher percent-
age of Stanfi eld’s traffi c is
semitrucks.
Strasser and traffi c and
roadway manager Daniel
Fine told the Stanfi eld city
council that taking away the
“passing environment” in
the city would help people
slow down — if a semitruck
is going the speed limit, it
means everyone behind it
has to as well.
Fine said ODOT had
seen pedestrian deaths over
the years where a truck
stopped for a pedestrian but
another driver struck the
person after trying to pass
the truck, not realizing why
they had stopped. The com-
bination of curb extensions
and fewer lanes would sig-
nifi cantly reduce the 80 feet
that pedestrians currently
have to cross.
The improvements would
also benefi t drivers try-
ing to turn onto Highway
395 from a side street, who
would have a better line of
sight and would only have
to watch for two lanes of
oncoming traffi c instead of
four.
The space previously
taken up by lanes of travel
could be used to add bike
lanes and additional parking
or to expand sidewalks.
City manager Blair
Larsen — who was at his
fi nal city council meet-
ing before departing for a
new job in Sweet Home —
told the council he believed
ODOT’s project would help
increase safety and create a
more “vibrant” downtown.
“Right
now
Stan-
fi eld doesn’t have a sense
of place,” he said. “Peo-
ple don’t feel like they’re
going through a town here
... I think this will reap div-
idends for Main Street busi-
nesses by making a place
people want to walk and
shop.”
While councilors told
ODOT unanimously that
they were in favor of most
of the repaving project,
including the bulb-outs, they
wanted more time to think
about the number of travel
lanes. Some were concerned
that it would increase traf-
fi c congestion too much and
traffi c would get too backed
up at red lights.
Mayor Thomas McCann
said he didn’t want to make
any decisions about the
number of lanes without
getting input from the pub-
lic, and the council agreed to
schedule a public hearing for
July 16.
A city survey during the
latter half of 2018 did ask a
question about reducing the
number of travel lanes, and
only 20% of respondents
were in favor.
While taking Stanfi eld
down to three lanes could
help slow traffi c, some cit-
ies with three lanes through
town complain about traffi c
speeds as well.
Highway 730 is already
only three lanes where it
runs through city of Uma-
tilla, but ODOT is planning
a $6 million repaving proj-
ect there with bulb-outs,
new lighting and other traf-
fi c-calming features.
Engineering for the Stan-
fi eld renovation, paid for by
ODOT, is expected to start
later this year, construc-
tion won’t start for at least
another year.
Stanfi eld council delays
increasing water rates
By JADE MCDOWELL
NEWS EDITOR
The Stanfi eld city council
looked at options for raising
water rates on Tuesday, but
decided to delay their deci-
sion until after a new city
manager is hired.
Tuesday was city man-
ager Blair Larsen’s last
council meeting before he
departs for a new job with
the city of Sweet Home, and
he suggested the council
table their discussion until
October to give a new city
manager time to get hired
and settled into the job.
Engineers from Ander-
son Perry & Associates
presented four options for
increasing revenue to pay
for more than $2 million in
priority improvements and
maintenance to Stanfi eld’s
water system. The biggest
proposed jump would more
than double most water cus-
tomers’ bills by 2030.
Dave Wildman told the
council that even without
completing any of the pro-
posed improvements to the
system, rising costs would
push the city’s water fund
into the red by 2023, result-
ing in a $1 million defi cit
by 2030. Those costs range
from personnel to equipment
to water quality testing.
“You’ve had a pretty
healthy water fund over the
past few years, but there are
trends coming up that call
for some adjustment,” Wild-
man said.
Currently the city charges
a fl at rate depending on cus-
tomers’ meter size, then
$1.50 per 1,000 gallons of
water used. According to
the Anderson Perry report,
the average “low volume”
customer using 10,000 gal-
lons per month pays $41 per
month.
Under the fi rst option for
raising rates, the city would
self-fi nance about $2.8
million in improvements
between 2024 and 2030 by
raising rates 10% per year
starting in 2020. The aver-
age low-volume user would
pay $45.10 that year and
$116.98 in 2030.
The second option calls
for a 25% increase in 2020
and 6% each year after,
allowing the city to get
started on the proposed
improvements to the water
system faster using a loan
but costing the city more in
the long run due to interest.
The third option would
change the city’s rate struc-
ture, getting rid of the meter
size-based base charge in
favor of a fl at $25 base
charge that would include
5,000 gallons of water.
Usage between 5,000 and
15,000 gallons would be
charged at $1.50 per 1,000
gallons and gallons above
15,000 would start at $2.90
per 1,000. Rates would then
be increased 4% per year.
The change would cause
low-volume users to see a
temporary reduction of rates
down to $32.50 in 2020,
which would build to $50.03
in 2030. The money for the
city to self-fi nance system
improvements would come
from high-volume users.
Under the current system
an average business using
50,000 gallons pays $126.80
per month, which would
increase to $147.16 in 2020
under the new structure and
rise to $217.83 per month by
2030.
The fi nal option would be
to use the same rate struc-
ture as option three, but to
take out a loan instead of
saving up for projects, so
that they could be started
immediately.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019