The Oregon Department of Transportation unveiled its long-awaited, revised plans for its revamp of Canby’s stretch of Highway 99E in the wake of a pipe breakage last month that sparked a major delay.
In a bold embrace of the community’s pioneer past, Highway 99E will be allowed to revert back to its original condition as a one-lane dirt road, the department announced in a press release.
“Oregonians today have lost that pioneer spirit that made our state such a wonderful place,” ODOT Director Frank Ferdinand said. “Everything’s rush-rush-rush, go-go-go, a mile an hour. They forget that good folks like Philander Lee and Joseph Knight didn’t need any fancy four-lane roads or traffic signals to make their way right here to Canby.
“All they needed was a good wagon, two years, their entire life savings and the luck of not being the 1 in 10 on the Oregon Trail who died of a preventable disease because of a lack of sanitation. We at ODOT feel Oregon could use a little bit more of that thinking again today.”
Ferdinand said ODOT is mulling ways to bring a similar touch to its wildly popular plans to toll Interstate 5 and I-205, including following in the footsteps of legendary pioneer Samuel Barlow and his Barlow Pass Tollgate near Oregon City.
“Each tollgate will be staffed by one crotchety old man who just finished walking over 2,000 miles, and if you can’t pay, you get trampled by a team of oxen,” Ferdinand explained. “People will love it!”
Locally, the response to the new proposal has been mixed. At a public hearing last week, several hundred residents, business owners, commuters and other stakeholders politely expressed concerns that reducing a busy four-lane state highway to a single lane might be disastrous for the community’s economy and quality of life.
Ferdinand, who ran the meeting while listening to a true crime podcast on his Air Pods, promised attendees that their voices were being heard and would have been carefully taken into account after the decision would have already been decided.
But a hot mic appeared to catch his true feelings toward the end of the four-and-a-half-hour public meeting.
“These people are impossible,” he muttered. “One day, they’re complaining about potholes. The next day, they’re all up in arms on account of turning one of the state’s busiest highways into a barely passable cattle trail. Make up your freakin’ minds.”
Not everyone was against the plan, however, like Sperle Griffin, who attended the hearing and was found comparing the large-scale before-and-after renderings that ODOT had provided.
“I honestly don’t see a difference,” Griffin finally announced. “Are you absolutely sure these aren’t the same picture?”
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