Sunday, December 28, 2008

From the "You've got to be kidding" department.

Just a couple of more frustrating items cause and due to the big "Artic Blast" storm we encountered and had to endure last week here in the Portland/Vancouver area..... No garbage pickup for two weeks, yet we still have to pay for services not rendered (Man, Am I in the wrong business!) and ODOT trys to defend their closing of two major freeways so they could make them safer for travelm although I couldn't any difference, if anything they made the freeways and situation far worst as my wife and I were personally caught in the I205/I5 incident for a grueling 7 hours! When we got to the area in question it was nothing but packed ice! With the 8 hours ODOT had been working on it, it sure didn't seem any safer to us!

When is the truck coming for all that garbage?
by Michelle Cole, The Oregonian
Sunday December 28, 2008, 6:44 PM

Got garbage piling up at your house? Help is on the way.
The vast majority of Portland area households missed at least one garbage pick up because of the record snow storm, says Bruce Walker, manager of the city of Portland's solid waste and recycling program.
Starting Monday and continuing through Wednesday, Walker says, garbage and recycling trucks will resume their normal daily routes.
Because of the New Year's holiday, those who have regularly scheduled Thursday pick up will have to wait until Friday to have their trash and recyclables hauled away. Friday's scheduled pickups will occur then on Saturday, Walker said.
Will you get a discount on your bill for the missed pickups? No, he says. But you won't be charged for putting out all that extra trash.

ODOT says rush-hour plowing on I-5 was for drivers' safety
by Ed Walsh and Janie Har, The Oregonian
Wednesday December 24, 2008, 7:00 PM

Citing concern for motorists' safety, the Oregon Department of Transportation on Wednesday strongly defended its decision to close part of southbound Interstate 5 during Tuesday evening's rush hour, stranding thousands of holiday travelers and commuters for hours.
Officials said that rapidly deteriorating road conditions had created a dangerous situation that left the agency no choice but to act when it did.
Already jammed with rush hour and holiday travelers, an 11-mile stretch of the freeway -- from the Southwest Haines Street exit in Portland to the Charbonneau exit south of Wilsonville -- was closed about 4:30 p.m. as a "moving blockade" of ODOT equipment lumbered south at about 5 mph.
The ice- and snow-clearing operation ended about 6:30 p.m., but traffic remained snarled for hours longer because of the huge backup created by the blockade and because 10 semitrailers had spun out or had stopped on the freeway to chain up just south of Charbonneau. It took until 7:30 p.m. to clear those vehicles from the road, ODOT officials said.
The traffic ordeal two days before Christmas infuriated many motorists who questioned why ODOT did not wait until after rush hour to begin clearing ice and snow.
"What idiot decides to close the interstate during rush hour!" Jay Schlake, a business services director in Lake Oswego, wrote to The Oregonian. "Someone needs to be fired."
But ODOT officials argued that driving conditions on that stretch of the freeway had become so dangerous -- despite previous plowing -- that they could not risk a delay.
"It wasn't our intention to inconvenience people, but it is our intention to make sure travel is safe," said Doug Tindall, the agency's deputy director for highways.
"In our judgment we made the right call, and we made it when we had to make it. I don't like to be inconvenienced on my roads, but I like it even less when people die on my roads."
According to Tindall and other ODOT officials, the icy ruts that formed on southbound I-5 are common in the mountains but are seldom seen in the Willamette Valley. Such ruts typically develop when there is some warming amid heavy traffic that cuts into the ice and snow, and then a refreezing. Crews later reported encountering ice ruts 4 to 6 inches deep, said Christine Miles, an ODOT spokeswoman.
Plain old rain finally may be on the horizon
The winter blast that has forced road closures, put holiday travelers' plans on ice and froze some public transportation may finally be releasing its grip.
The forecast for today calls for a mix of rain and snow with a high of 35 degrees. Any snow accumulation will likely be above 500 feet, said Charles Dalton of the National Weather Service.
That wintry mix should continue into Friday, with a high near 39, although the snow level will jump to about 2,000 feet.
The forecast then largely calls for rain, rain and more rain. In other words, back to your regularly scheduled winter.
-- Helen Jung Earlier Tuesday, Miles said, ODOT began receiving reports of multiple spinouts and accidents on southbound I-5. About 2:30 p.m., operations officials in ODOT's Portland regional office decided to launch the clearing operation.
But first they had to wait for the arrival of graders equipped with steel bits, delaying the start until about 4:30 p.m. Miles said that type of equipment is not kept in the Portland region because it is seldom needed.
The southbound ODOT caravan was led by the grader and included four snowplows, three "follow trucks" that blocked all three lanes to prevent motorists from trying to pass the heavy equipment, and three incident response vehicles. Miles said they ran into their first delay about four miles north of the Charbonneau exit -- where an initial spinout of two semitrailers blocked two lanes.
The larger blockage, south of Charbonneau, involved 10 trucks and lasted from about 5 to 7:30 p.m. It was cleared by an ODOT crew from another region, she said.
Miles said ODOT conducted similar clearing operations Wednesday on both I-5 and Interstate 205 and will continue to do so until the roads are safe.
"Normally we do wait until after rush hour, but we couldn't ignore this," Miles said. "It was freezing, the conditions were getting worse, and we couldn't sit by and do nothing."
For drivers caught in the massive traffic jam, the only reality that mattered was that they were not moving. "The worst thing is you don't know how long you're going to be there," said Tony Holt, who estimated that it took four hours to drive three miles from Costco in north Wilsonville to Charbonneau. "It's kind of a claustrophobic thing."
Elected officials were reluctant to second-guess the transportation agency's decision.
"Monday morning quarterbacks are a dime a dozen," said state Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, the chamber's longtime lead on transportation. He pointed out that traffic was troubled all day Tuesday because of weather-related spinouts and holiday travel, making it hard for ODOT to carve out an ideal time.
"I'm sure they did the best job they could under the circumstances," he said.
Anna Richter Taylor, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski, said the governor's office was not consulted but was kept up to date on plans to close a portion of the interstate.
"ODOT's primary mission is the safety of our roads, and ODOT was doing its job," she said. "It's unfortunate that there was a delay for those who were on the road, but it would have been very unfortunate had there been an accident."

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