Saturday, Oct. 8 was a very beautiful day around Mt. Hood and Sen. Chuck Thomsen, Rep. Mark Johnson and I held a town hall in Welches.
Just recently I had heard that Oregon Department of Transportation was planning to close the Government Camp rest stop by Oct. 31. I received a number of emails and phone calls from constituents, as did Sen. Thomsen and Rep. Johnson, saying that this plan was unacceptable. I began working with colleagues, lobbyists and agency personnel to come up with a solution.
Government Camp, of course, boasts the only public rest stop along Highway 26 between Madras and the Portland metro area. It's not just about saving ODOT money in this category, but, according to a number of constituents at the town hall, it is 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 ODOT, Clackamas County, Oregon Travel Experience and the U.S. Forest Service to allow the rest stop to remain open. This intergovernmental agreement will cover the time period ending March 31 where the Forest Service will grant an operational permit to OTE. ODOT and Clackamas County will cover operational costs and OTE will provide seven-days-per-week management of the Government Camp Rest Area.
During the February 2012 Legislative Session, we 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.
This agreement is an example of the type of creativity that the Legislature and state agencies will have to come up with to find solutions for delivering services to Oregonians in a different, more efficient and more cost-effective manner. I hope to see more partnering of public and private entities to work through issues, like I did in getting cell service to Wheeler County or like I've been doing in the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network Work Group. We managed to greatly reduce the OWIN budget by working with the private sector and local governments to take on a lot of the work and reduce duplication of equipment and services for the public safety radio network, that will reduce overall costs to the state.