By Tom Hubka
Wescom News Service
The Oregon Department of Transportation is proposing to move the truck weigh station at Constitution Way in Brookings to a new location off U.S. Hwy. 101, a move state officials say will help improve the Constitution Way-Hwy. 101 intersection.
The department is considering both sides of the highway near McVay Lane in Harbor as a potential spot to move the weigh station, or "scale site." The project manager said at least six months will pass before the department decides if the site will work.
Department officials said no final decision on the site or details of the station have been made.
The easiest way to alleviate the heavy traffic problems there would be to install a traffic signal, according to an department study on the Constitution Way intersection in Sept. 2006.
This won't work with the weigh station next door because traffic back-ups from the light would block trucks' access to the highway, state officials said.
"That study showed if we want to make any improvements at that intersection we're really quite limited with that scale being there," Project Leader Ingrid Weisenbach said. "So we then started looking for where we can move (it)."
The McVay Lane site seemed to work at first glance, Weisenbach said, but that months of analysis and several studies would need to be done to make sure.
"This was one site that seemed to meet, at initial blush, what we are basically looking for," she said.
Weigh stations, commonly located along highways, weigh trucks and freighters to ensure the weight of the vehicle is not too heavy. Too much weight can damage roads.
The department does not own the land near McVay Lane and would have to purchase it. Department officials are in the process of contacting 24 landowners near the area to receive feedback on the idea, Weisenbach said.
"It will definitely affect some neighboring properties, and we felt we needed to work with them directly," she said. "We've listened to their concerns and issues and we're trying to work through some of those out over the next few months."
The response from neighboring landowners has "run the gamut" and that most people understand why the department is interested in the site, Weisenbach said.
But Carol Crockett, who owns property across the highway from the would-be station, thinks the site is the problem.
"It doesn't make sense, and I think it's extremely dangerous," Crockett said.
Trucks would not have enough space to safely maneuver back onto the highway, she said, and the station would generally increase the amount of traffic to an unsafe level.
Crockett said she also worries about an increase in noise if the station is put on the Highway and a possible devaluation of her property.
"How often do you see a weigh station in front of residential or commercial property?" she asked.
The owner of Apple Hill RV Park, located near the proposed site, said a better place to put the station would be near the state border because he thought truckers would use another road, such as Oceanview Drive, to circumvent the McVay Lane station.
"What I think people need to be aware of is (the department) is picking the wrong place for this thing," Rich Sloniker said. "If they go closer to the state line, nobody could get past them."
Jared Castle, a spokesman for ODOT, said his department had received the concerns and would be addressing them in part by the studies, including traffic, safety, noise and environmental impacts, planned for the upcoming months.