Make the McKenzie Connection!

Echoes from the Past

Stories from the August 15, 2021 edition of Echoes from the Past

Stripes may come back, but not downtown

River Reflections, Volume 6, Issue 30 March 23, 1984

Yellow lines down the middle of the McKenzie Highway have been a point of conflict since the Oregon Highway Division

spent $4,700 last August to sandblast off several no-passing zones. Area residents protested their removal during a 6-Year Plan hearing in Eugene as well as at a special meeting with highway officials at Leaburg in December. However, according to James Gix, Region 3 area Highway Engineer in Roseburg, the stripes had to be removed to bring parts of the McKenzie into compliance with statewide rules for highway markings.

Some no-passing zones in Cedar Flat, Walterville, Leaburg, and Vida were changed from a double line to a dotted line in the compliance change. Some 25,000 linear feet - or nearly 4 miles - of double lines were removed. Yet the striping controversy continues with the federal government getting into the act. Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation informed the Oregon Highway Division that the state must stripe horizontal curves or face the prospect of losing federal aid construction money. The threat is similar to one the feds used to cajole states into enforcing the 55 mph speed limit, Gix notes. Gix says Oregon’s non-compliance with the horizontal striping is part of a 30-year-old conflict between the federal government and the state. Oregon already outlaws passing on vertical curves where visibility is limited to less than 1,000 feet. Yet even allowing passing on flat curves, Gix says Oregon passing rates are still admirable, ranking 44th highest out of 50 states for safety in passing on curves.“Will the no-passing stripes be repainted in downtown Vida and Leaburg? “Not likely,” is Gix’s response since those areas are straight-a-ways. More likely is the prospect of more striping added to other areas of those communities - like no passing zones around the Leaburg Lake curve and the Goodpasture Bridge curve in Vida.

Weyerhaeuser subdivision faces Forest Plan

River Reflections, Volume 6, Issue 22 Jan. 27, 1984

The broad pen of land use designations has recently caused a flurry of CPR (Comprehensive Plan Revision) filings at the Lane County Planning Division. The CPRs allow property owners to take exception to land designations under the proposed Lane County Comprehensive Plan. Included among the requests filed by the Monday, January 23, deadline was one for the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company development at Leaburg. Weyerhaeuser last year was defeated in its plan to create an 800-unit housing project near Leaburg. Construction on a smaller scale, a 39-lot subdivision called Baxter Acres, was stopped last month when a state forester discovered the work activity. Lane County subsequently followed up with a stop work order of its own. Lane County counsel Bill Van Vactor, however, says both bans have been lifted and Weyerhaeuser will be allowed to finish work on the septic systems, with 39 tanks and 36 drain fields already installed,

Van Vector says the environmental impact involved in finishing the job would be minor. The kicker, though, lies in the county’s appraisal of residential use for the acreage. VanVactor says “We told them they could go ahead and complete the septic systems but the installation itself does not irrevocably commit that property to residential use.” According to Lane County’s maps to determine zoning, the Baxter Acres plot is considered forest land. Mike Farthing of the law firm Husk, Gleaves, Swearingen, representing the company, says the new forest designation for the property came as a surprise. Farthing says the land was subdivided and plotted in 1948. In addition, he notes that Weyerhaeuser has been working on the project for six years now and has received county permits and go-ahead for septic systems and road access. Also backing up company claims, he says is a letter from the county in September of 1982 approving the 39 lots subject to zoning and building restrictions as they then existed. In its CPR request, Weyerhaeuser maintains that it already has 39 valid lots, which qualifies the property as committed lands rather than resource lands. Weyerhaeuser Real Estate spokesman Bob Shedd in Tacoma says his company is not seeking compensation from the county for the construction delays. He says Weyerhaeuser plans to sell the lots in 1984 and some are already gone. “We’re going ahead with our plans,” Shedd says, “everything so far has been a mix-up but should be straightened out.

Roadside flags part of a national study

River Reflections, Volume 6, Issue 43 June 22, 1984

With bright-colored flags sprouting like roadside flowers along the upper stretches of the McKenzie Highway, it almost looks like summer has arrived. But instead of foretelling biospheric conditions, the flags represent a Cornell University-backed study probing eons-old forces still acting some 20 to 30 miles below the earth’s surface. The McKenzie Valley this week became part of Cornell’s nationwide study of plate tectonics, an investigation of how continental and oceanic plates interact when they meet below the surface. Crews from the Petty-Ray Division of Geo-Source Inc. have been placing flags every tenth of a mile along the highway from milepost 44 east and along the Old McKenzie Hwy., Rte 242, as well. Eventually, they plan to take their testing as far as the City of Sisters in eastern Oregon. Bill Cassidy, project manager for Petty-Ray, says that geophones are connected at each flag station to a seismic cable running along the roadside. During the testing, five vibrator-equipped trucks are used to send test waves into the earth’s crust, traveling through the ground, the waves reflect from different rock layers, return to the geophones, and are transferred to another computer-equipped truck for recording, Cassidy says. The Cornell study, titled the Consortium For Continental Reflection Profiling, has seen crews working in several other states since the 1970’s. Investigations so far have been conducted in California, Utah, Georgia, Wyoming, and Tennessee, Cassidy says the Oregon phase of the project has concentrated on developing a series of lines from the coast, through the Willamette Valley, and over to Eastern Oregon. Depending on the weather, local testing could be over by July, he says.

Police pull pot plantation

River Reflections, Volume 6, Issue 50 August 10, 1984

Harvesting came a little sooner than planned this year for an as-yet-unidentified marijuana grower in the Blue River area. Oregon State Police and U.S. Forest Service

officials report they pulled 37 plants on August 1st in the Blue River drainage. The plants, ranging from 3 to 8 feet in height were estimated to be valued at $30,000.Police were tipped off to the site by an informer and arrived on the scene to find the operation included a number of gardening tools, as well as watering and fertilizing jugs. Those items were also seized in the raid which sent the plants to be burned at the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s boilers in Eugene. Blue River Ranger District officials say the matter is still under investigation and warn people conducting such operations that they may be facing more than drug charges. Other offenses include the destruction of natural resources and trespass, which carry penalties up to a $500 fine and 6 months in jail.

 

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