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Scappoose residents, city officials, emergency responders unaware of planned closure until last week

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Columbia Ave was still open and no construction was underway on Monday, Oct. 14. A local fire marshal issued a stop work order on East Columbia Avenue construction in Scappoose.

The planned construction has been delayed until the contractor, Tapani Inc., provides more information to emergency responders.

The construction would have prevented passage between Bird Road and Northeast 14th, forcing motorists to travel an additional 10 miles up West Lane Road to Honeyman Road.

Scappoose residents were surprised to learn about a planned closure of Columbia Avenue just a few days before construction was set to begin.

The local fire marshal issued an emergency stop work order late on Friday after learning about the planned closure, which would have created a 10-mile detour route.

"The lack of information provided to the public and first responders is highly unusual," said Jeff Pricher, fire marshal and division chief with Scappoose Fire District and Columbia River Fire and Rescue.

It wasn't just residents who were surprised by the short notice: Scappoose City Manager Michael Sykes said city staff were aware that the construction project was approaching, but were not aware of the planned closure dates and detour routes until last week.

"Last Friday when we saw the signage on the highway and all the misinformation out there, we were concerned," Sykes said Monday.

Tapani coordinated with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Columbia County, Sykes said, "but what we learned was they hadn't really done the kind of coordination that was necessary" with the community.

City staff will be preparing more information for residents.

The construction would have replaced the existing sewer line under Columbia Avenue with a large pipe. Population growth and recent sewer line expansions near Scappoose Industrial Airpark have increased sewer usage, making the existing pipe too small for the volume of waste.

"This really is a critical problem," Sykes said of the sewer line.


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