The Road Trip Not Taken

Jon Perr

Just in time for the July 4th holiday weekend, a coalition of groups including AAA, the American Highway Users Alliance and the non-profit TRIP issued a report identifying the 25 American summer destinations with the worst traffic tie-ups.

The report's number one trouble-spot in the United States?  The Oregon Coast.

The document, titled "Are We There Yet", describes the pain points as "US-20, US-30, US-26 and SR–18 and SR-22 [which] provide access between Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the Pacific coastline, often winding through the rugged Coast Range. This area is known for an abundance of recreational opportunities, a growing wine industry and picturesque scenery."

This is one #1 ranking folks in Oregon could do without.  Then again, a little perspective can be therapeutic; during my youth, my home town of Cleveland led American cities in murders per 1000 residents. The Murder Capital also topped the nation in population loss.  Oh yeah, the river caught fire, too.

  • Simp (unverified)

    This is one #1 ranking folks in Oregon could do without. 

    From an economic perspective, perhaps. Although from a purely selfish Oregonian, I'm more than happy with the rating.

    Though, as a general rule, I never venture out during the 4th holiday, or I try to arrange my vacation/travel time so that it starts on the 4th.

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    A little off-topic, but the AAA is evil. For an environmentally friendly auto club and roadside assistance service, check out the Better World Club. Oh, and they are based right here in Portland.

    What? You like AAA? Think again:

    "A lot of people belong to AAA because they think it's a nice place to get Triptiks and traveler's checks," says Daniel Becker, director of Sierra Club's global warming and energy program. "What they don't know is that AAA is a lobbyist for more roads, more pollution, and more gas guzzling."

    More here.

  • afs (unverified)

    This is just one person's opinion, but...

    Do we really want the Oregon coast to to have a big increase in car traffic? Natural settings and car traffic don't work together well. If you want to see something gross, take a ride on Skyline Drive in VA in the fall. People supposedly go to Skyline Drive to see the beauty of the mountains, and in the fall, the changing colors are beautiful. Well.. what you can see of the mountains when you have all of God's SUV's packed on your front and rear bumpers overflowing with the screaming kids of suburban moms and dads taking their 4-wheel drive monsters as close to off-road as they will ever get. Skyline Drive is packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic all through the fall. It's like bottling the beauty of nature and packaging it as an E ticket ride at Epcot Center. All the Skyline Drive bumper sticker, t-shirt, shot glass, collector spoon vendors are not beautiful. All the soda cans and Snapple bottles tossed out the windows of all those SUVs by all those screaming kids aren't beautiful either. It's turned Skyline Drive into a big tailgate party where nature is the mascot, and have as much to do with the event as Native Americans have to do with a Washington Redskins pre-game cook-out.

  • dispossessed (unverified)

    Tourism is to a place as prostitution is to a woman. Rents her beauty and charms to admiring and using strangers on a quick rollover plan, destroying all three -- the charm, the beauty, the place.

    Places that beg for it to save or make their economy are, well, just like the women, too: pitiful unless a backwards double-flip convinces you it's "empowering."

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    This ties right in with a sign I noticed on my way back from Lincoln City yesterday as I headed north through Dundee. The honey place right off of 99 there has a little sign that reads:

    Welcome to the Dundee bottleneck - 60 years of poor planning.

    On a bad day you can spend half an hour taking in the sights of that 1 mile town without ever having to leave your car.

    As a native Oregonian there are two times a year I avoid the coast if at all possible (or time my trips very carefully) - Spring Break and 4th of July. You spend more time on the road than you do your destination! It's no wonder we "won" that one.

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    To the extent that Native Americans reside in the DC area and enjoy football, most of them claim not to be offended by the moniker. So I wouldn't be surprised to see some Mattaponi grilling up shad in the parking lot. :)

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    I find "dispossessed"'s analogy of tourism to prostitution somewhat interesting.

    I guess the eco-tourism we talk about should be just called whoring.

    I guess that the City of Bend should just call itself a "red-light" district.

    I guess the pristine white sand of the Oregon Coast should just be thought of as a back-alleyway of dissipation.

    --- give me a break!

    Yes, Oregon has three times as many people living here as when I was a kid. Yes, the beaches get crowded. Yes we all wish traffic was easier. Yes Oregon's summer population about doubles due to tourism, one of our leading industries. Last weekend I spent my share of time in traffic back-ups while visiting family in Florence. But whoring! Really!

    Just stop and think. There are similar beach areas in Europe that aren't half as nice with more traffic than here - because they are popular. This traffic issue means that Oregon is the nation's beach mecca!

    Like every economic system, the system will create its own balance. If it is too busy to be fun, people will stop coming.

    But whoring! Really went too far with that one!

  • dispossessed (unverified)

    The nation's beach mecca, Steve??!! Now .... that is going too far! More or less in your neck of the woods, Sisters, to me (the last time I was through there, early 90s), was a perfect example of a once wonderful and real little town turned into prostituting itself almost wholly to the tourism industry. I think it ruins a place in just the way I stated. I didn't labor over the analogy; the analogy came very gradually to me watching places morph from towns with their own character to towns that were just renting themselves out, towns that had lost their base and anchor weight (speaking of the beach).

    You are free to disagree on every level. But I also don't find that "too busy to be fun" holds true at large. Some places are increasingly damaged, even ruined, by tourism past their handling level, and it doesn't seem to stop. Yosemite? Venice?

    Other places have a fabulous amount of tourism but as a part, not an anchor, of their greatness. Think New York City. They have an expression along the order of saying visitors give the city energy. (But it isn't its heart & soul.)

    The singular greatness of the Oregon Coast is that the beaches are publicly owned -- all hail (the singularly great) Tom McCall.

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