Restroom will stay open
Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles) called a town hall meeting in Welches over the weekend, in hopes of coming up with a solution, after he read a report that said the Oregon Department of Transportation intended to close the much-used restroom on Oct. 31, due to budget cuts.
The Government Camp rest area is the only public rest stop along U.S. Highway 26 between Madras and Portland.
"The ODOT announcement stirred a huge public outcry," Huffman said.
He teamed up with other legislators, lobbyists and agency personnel to find a solution that would allow the rest area to remain open.
Those at the town hall said this issue wasn't just about saving ODOT money, but it was also a safety and convenience issue for citizens traveling between Central Oregon and the metro area.
"What came out of this cooperative exercise is an agreement between Clackamas County, ODOT, Oregon Travel Experience and the U.S. Forest Service," Huffman said.
The solution includes an intergovernmental agreement to cover the time period ending March 31, 2012, in which the U.S. Forest service will grant an operational permit to Oregon Travel Experience to maintain the restroom.
ODOT and Clackamas County will cover operational costs and OTE will provide seven-day-a-week management of the Government Camp rest area.
"In February 2012, the Oregon Legislature will work to formalize a permanent solution that will hopefully act as a model for Government Camp and a few other Oregon rest areas that have been targeted for closure," Huffman said.