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Newport considers strategies to reduce traffic congestion

A fishing vessel departs Yaquina Bay in this April 2019 photo.
Brian Bull
A fishing vessel departs Yaquina Bay in this April 2019 photo. Newport's historic bayfront is a popular destination for visitors to the city.

The City of Newport is working on long-term strategies to combat the traffic congestion that’s plaguing some neighborhoods in the tourist destination on the Oregon coast.

City officials say parking in places like the historic bayfront district or the popular Nye Beach area is often more than 85 percent full. That leads to frustration as visitors navigate narrow streets searching for limited spaces.

“It causes people to have to circulate through the bayfront multiple times to find parking," said Derrick Tokos, Newport's Community Development Director. "We have increased circumstances where people are doing illegal parking because they’re frustrated."

Tokos said Newport is looking at ways to manage parking better, such as more paid parking, permits, and time limits.

Another proposal: a bus that would allow people to park in less-congested areas and ride to different spots around town.

Lincoln County Transit already operates a bus that circulates through several Newport neighborhoods about a half-dozen times each day. But Tokos said that isn't viewed as part of the city's anti-congestion strategy, which is concentrated on several high-traffic areas frequented by out-of-town visitors.

"Tourists wouldn't utilize the existing service," he said. "It's not designed for that. It's designed for those folks who live here who rely upon transit to get to the grocery story or their job."

Tokos said a new shuttle service, if approved by City Council, would not launch for a couple of years. The goal would be to direct tourists to less-congested parts of town, where they could park their vehicle and ride the "trolley," which would take them to various attractions around the city.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”