I have lived and worked in Seaside, made memories here, and watched this city change so much in a short time. As I attended the Oregon Department of Transportation's Nov. 10 meeting at the Seaside Convention Center on the recent proposal for the U.S. Highway 101 project, I realized that something enormous was taking place. Potentially, it felt as if something was about to be taken away from this place: a feeling of community.
When decisions are made to sever our highway into halves, to route traffic away from businesses, to flood narrow roads, such as Wahanna, for upwards of four years and do all this without the consent of the public, it is nothing less than a crime against our community.
On Monday, if the majority of the City Council casts their votes for the proposed highway project, a few people could go down in local history as the ones who disfigured our town and
split our community apart. Our elected officials have a great opportunity now to represent us and direct our town toward more appropriate modifications.
Seaside is a growing town and must embrace it. There are many ways of dealing with urban growth. There are alternatives not so obviously riddled with errors. Before we explore those alternatives, we must stop this mess. We must work one step at a time. I urge the council members to act without haste and not let fear of ODOT or other influences pressure them into making a regrettable mistake.
The Dooley Bridge, Airport Road Project, if approved, will turn Seaside into a different place. It will be a place of cement medians and split roads. It will be a place where people will have difficulty finding an adequate place to cross a road on foot. Vehicle turn-offs will be limited. It will be a place where something better could have existed.
The proposal isn't finished. All maps and documentation available still "read subject to change." The final meeting is days away with the Environmental Impact Statement not yet completed. ODOT has not been up front with our town concerning their plans and motives. In fact, there has been little conference with the public at all. Most importantly, the vast majority of citizenry does not approve of this project based on the hundreds of people I have talked to at school, as peers, and in working with the public over the last few months. There are innumerable and serious problems in the proposal that would need reworking prior to the City Council vote.
The planning commission is gambling with our town's livelihood. There is more than seven million dollars that has not been collected yet. They are betting that money will come from the federal government. Who wants to take the risk of an unfinished project if the money runs out? ODOT wants to throw the dice.
Everyone who reads this, who cares about their town, ought to write to their council members and share their views on this matter. Urge them to vote no.
Richard D. Trucke II