officials in Oregon are fighting an effort that would make U.S. 101 a
state-designated freight route, which would result in increased use of the road
The controversy began after the Oregon Department of
Transportation started a review of the state’s system of freight routes, which
designates those highways that serve as the primary interstate and intrastate
connections to ports, intermodal terminals and urban areas. The freight routes
carry a significant portion of the state’s truck traffic.
As part of the review, which began in the spring of 2004,
the agency requested comments from the public on the proposal, which it called
the Freight Route Analysis Project. In late 2004, it extended the period during
which it accepts those comments until April 8, 2005.
the program caught the attention of officials in some of the communities along
U.S. 101, a well-known scenic highway that runs the length of the U.S. West
Initially, the highway was not included in a list of
new freight routes. Local officials in cities along the northern portion of the
state’s coastline were especially concerned that a freight route designation
would damage their economic efforts along the road, which were targeted at
encouraging tourism, The Oregonian reported.
Clatsop County Board of Commissioners went so far as to pass a resolution and
send an official letter to the state “opposing
the designation of any portion of Highway 101 in Clatsop County as a freight
The board heard testimony that if the
highway were added to the freight routes, that designation would influence
any furtherdesign or maintenance to support freight
movement, rather than the county’s other planned commercial or recreational
activities. In addition, the highway’s scenic byway designation might be in
County board unanimously approved opposing the change to a freight route.
bill now before the state’s Senate, SB894, would put U.S. 101 back on the list.
It would define any road that is part of the national highway system – any
interstate and any U.S. highway – as a freight route.
The Oregonian reports that altogether,
could change the designation on 1,700 miles of road in the state.
But opponents of freight route expansion have not been sitting still. Another bill, SB566, has been introduced to limit the expansion by prohibiting the Oregon Transportation Commission and Department of Transportation from designating highway as a freight route if that road is also designated as historic and scenic highway.
hearings on both bills were held March 7; both remain in the Senate