I urge the voters of the City of Seaside, in the strongest possible terms, to vote "yes" for the renovation of Highway 101 in Seaside. Who am I? I am Onno Husing, director of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association (OCZMA). OCZMA is an association of counties, cities, ports and soil and water conservation districts on the Oregon Coast. We were founded in 1976. Our office is in Newport.
Since becoming director in1996, I've been involved in many coastal transportation issues up and down the Oregon coast. Local officials, the leadership at ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) regularly seek my advice on coastal transportation. At present, I'm one of 13 Oregonians serving on a steering committee to update Oregon's Transportation Plan (OTP). The OTP sets policies the OTC follows when making transportation investment decisions.
Coastal communities face a tremendous challenge. Together we must keep Highway 101 functional. Each community has a role to play. Traffic congestion from trucks and cars will continue to escalate. Keeping traffic flowing on Highway 101 will become harder and harder. The voters of Seaside have the chance to improve Highway 101 using state money. I urge you to seize that opportunity.
Improving a highway when it runs through a town always involves some discomfort and dislocation. I hear some individuals are telling you to vote no. They want you to hold out for a bypass. I respectfully submit there is a zero chance a bypass will ever be built around Seaside. Why? First, the money does not exist for a project of that scale and complexity. Second, today's strict environmental laws protecting wetlands and salmon habitat will block any effort to build a bypass around Seaside.
If Highway 101 in Seaside becomes routinely blocked by congestion and, if you vote Measure 4-108 down, that will happen - many people will stop coming to Seaside. Your economy will suffer. The word is already getting out in Oregon that Highway 101 in Seaside is becoming a major bottleneck.
I thought long and hard before I wrote this letter. Normally, I never weigh in on local elections. But this is an extraordinary case. The upcoming vote in Seaside impacts not just Seaside but many coastal communities.
Please, vote "yes" on Measure 4-108.