“The project is remarkable due to the determined efforts of the community of Seaside, ODOT, and consultants to address the congestion issue from a new perspective and the city’s commitment to support and invest in alternative modes, access management, and land use changes” — WTS Portland Chapter
After years of bitter conflict about how to address seasonal congestion on Highway 101 in the city of Seaside, the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) joined together in an Oregon Consensus project to reach agreement on Seaside’s first Transportation System Plan (TSP).
The coastal community of Seaside, Oregon, is a popular seasonal destination. Its population of 6,500 triples during most weekends in July and August. Highway 101 bisects the town with limited capacity to handle heavy seasonal traffic.
Issues and Challenges
City residents advocated for a bypass since the 1980’s. In 2000, ODOT designed a plan for highway improvements without a bypass. The project, Pacific Way to Dooley Bridge, or “Pac-Dooley,” became increasingly controversial during the environmental analysis and final design stages. A successful grass roots petition drive led to Seaside suing ODOT for the right to vote on the project. The project was voted down by a narrow margin, and millions of federal and state funds were withdrawn from the community. Neighbors were divided and relationships damaged between the city and ODOT with no agreed on solutions for Highway 101.
The TSP process was the first transportation conversation between the community and agencies since the vote. By the end of the process, the Mayor was comfortable addressing the community about transportation for the first time in years; the city and ODOT were co-leading presentations; and community members were advocating for more transit service rather than a bypass. A cornerstone of the TSP is the creation of Alternative Mobility Standards by ODOT in partnership with the city to guide future improvements on Highway 101. The result is a visionary TSP for a small coastal city, a model for other communities affected by seasonal traffic, renewed relationships among agency partners and the community and broad support for a new future for Highway 101.
The project was named 2010 Project of the Year by WTS for overcoming community conflict, developing visionary solutions and engaging women in leadership roles.
Oregon Department of Transportation; City of Seaside; Clatsop County; Alta Planning; community of Seaside, Oregon
Jamie Damon, Oregon Consensus; Theresa Carr, Ch2MHill