ODOT seeks public input in coastal bike route planning

Oregon Coast – The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is seeking the public’s assistance with a major planning effort along the coast.

ODOT wants the public to help its planners identify areas of the 370-mile Oregon Coast Bike Route (OCBR) that need improvement.

The OCBR, which takes many cyclists six to eight days to complete, follows U.S. Highway 101 as a shoulder bikeway, although in several spots the path departs from the coastal highway to follow nearby city streets and county roads that are safer to travel in many areas where the famous, narrow and winding coastal highway provides little room on either shoulder.

Public input and ideas about how to improve the OCBR are being accepted by ODOT through Jan. 31, 2019. The agency is accepting input and ideas via an online “open house,” accessible 24 hours per day, seven days per week, which is located at http://openhouse.oregondot.org/oregon-coast-bike-route.

An ODOT press release says public input is a key piece of the OCBR improvement plan and will set the stage for improved safety, accessibility, funding, and overall enjoyment for tourists, Oregon residents — anyone and everyone who uses the route.

Every year, 6,000 to 10,000 people traverse the bicycle trail, which officially was designated in the early 1980s as part of a statewide effort that began in 1971 to support cycling — a period when the state began developing bikeways throughout Oregon.

Currently, ODOT has not identified how it will fund improvements along the OCBR, but hopes that the combination of public input and a finalized plan will reveal areas along the route that need the most immediate attention and maintenance, as well as improvements that will increase the safety of cyclists and hikers, as well as accessibility to the trail.

Although funding has yet to be nailed down, ODOT’s website says the prime contractor that will complete the work, Colorado-based engineering firm CH2M, already has been selected to lead the planning effort.

Additionally, none of the information ODOT provides online about the project contains details or an estimate of how much the improvements might cost taxpayers, if there are federal grants available to help offset any of the costs, or how local governments and jurisdictions could make investments in the OCBR.

That’s also part of the reason for developing the plan. It’s hoped that the public’s input will help to clearly define the bicycle route, both where it follows Highway 101 and where it deviates onto other roadways, identify ways that ODOT and local jurisdictions can invest in supporting and improving the path for riders, and ascertain which areas currently need the most improvement.   

ODOT also has been working closely with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and the Oregon Coast Trail effort, which is a parallel planning project facilitated by OPRD to improve people’s hiking experience along the coast. The agencies particularly are working together on areas where the hiking trails overlap with the OCBR.

The entire project is expected to be completed within two to three years — an official deadline for completion of the plan was not available at press time — but there is a genuine need to complete the project as soon as possible because bicycle infrastructure standards and the growth of cycling tourism in Oregon continue to change and increase, ODOT’s website says.  

To learn more about the OCBR, and cycling through Oregon in general, go online to https://www.oregon.gov/odot/programs/tdd%20documents/oregon-coast-bike-route-map.pdf.

To read a fact sheet about the Oregon Coast Bike Route go online to https://www.oregon.gov/odot/projects/pages/project-details.aspx?project=PAB33870.

Daniel Pearson

Daniel Pearson holds a bachelors in journalism and an MBA in marketing. He’s a 10-time, Oregon SPJ award-winning journalist, a two-time winner of an ADDY (advertising) for copywriting, and a one-time award winner for fiction for the NW Coastal Writer’s Series. Email: daniel@bankspost.com Twitter: @rosecitywriting