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Freeway exits hot topic for city planning

August 24, 2011

The long, winding process of developing the Hood River Interchange Access Management Plan (IAMP and Transportation system Plan (TSP) is getting closer to the end after years of work by the city planning department and ODOT.

The Hood River City Council continued a public hearing from Aug. 8 at its Monday meeting and continued to hear from citizens concerned about how the plans will impact them.

The main concerns were over changes to Exits 63 and 64 and what would happen to downtown business if significant changes were undertaken at the intersections of Second and Cascade and Second and Oak.

Those two intersections are a choke point for traffic coming through downtown, heading to the Hood River waterfront or trying to get to the freeway through exit 62.

Doug Hattenhauer, who owns the two Union 76 gas stations in town, was concerned that access changes at exit 63 could cut off large portions of his business and benefit those off exit 64.

"The thing that bothers me is how they are treating exit 64," he said.

Josh Sceva, who owns a business property at the Oak and Second Street intersection, was concerned about significant portions of downtown parking being eliminated through the plan.

Hattenhauer, Port Executive Director Michael McElwee and Bob Naito, owner of the former Nichols Boat Basin property, all expressed concern over a right turn in, right turn out proposal for the intersection of Second and Riverside.

"The right in, right out should be the last alternative," Naito said.

Mayor Arthur Babitz said he still wanted to see more from ODOT and the city planning commission before the council takes action.

"Don't break downtown - that's the criteria," he said. "And that's the thing I don't think is guaranteed … and it's real easy to (break downtown)."

The hearing will remain open to written public comment through 5 p.m. Friday.

Anyone wishing to submit a comment should submit it in writing to City Hall.

For more on the plans visit the Hood River Planning Commission website at: http://bit.ly/q8uWHZ.

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