Sen. Betsy Johnson guides transportation advisor on tour from Linnton to Port Westward

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D- Scappoose, displays a mat developed by Oregon Aero Thursday, Oct. 3. that relieves moisture, heat and pressure from underneath the user. Johnson has been using the mat with her wheelchair since her car accident in April which fractured her pelvis. Karmen Fore (right), sustainable communities and transportation policy advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber takes notes at a meting with Scappoose Industrial Airpark businesses and port representatives.State Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose took Karmen Fore, Gov. John Kitzhaber's sustainable communities transportation policy advisor, on a tour through south Columbia County Thursday to familiarize Fore with the area's transportation issues.

The tour focused on the communities of Scappoose, St. Helens, Rainier and Port Westward, the industrial park north of Clatskanie. It started in Linnton, in Multnomah County.

Johnson and Fore stopped at TransWestern Aviation at Scappoose Industrial Airpark at 9:30 a.m. to discuss airport issues and development opportunities within Scappoose. Present at the meeting were various businesses operating within Scappoose Industrial Airpark as well as Port of St. Helens Executive Director Patric Trapp and Craig Allison, property and operations manager with the Port of St. Helens.

“We're talking about growing business, but in the safest possible way,” Johnson said when asked about the rezoning of farmland near Port Westward for heavy industrial purposes, which may lead to an increase in rail traffic throughout the county. “That's why we're talking about the communities that are affected.”

Johnson said safety is “paramount,” but added that business development is also an important reason for the tour.

Business and port representatives expressed to Fore the opportunities for growth within the airpark and highlighted Scappoose as a prime location for new development given its close proximity to Portland.

Portland Community College has been considering developing land in the Scappoose Industrial Airpark for the past four years, but the land the school hopes to develop falls within Scappoose's proposed urban growth boundary expansion of 365 acres. The UGB expansion process has been under appeal by two local residents, which has halted PCC from taking final steps to begin to develop a presence in Scappoose.

Trapp said he has recently noticed an increase in businesses contacting the port looking for 20,000 to 30,000 square-foot buildings within the airpark.

“My only hope and goal is to better understand the needs of her district as it relates to transportation,” Fore said, when asked about the purpose of her visit. “What I hope to do is provide Governor Kitzhaber with information to better understand the local needs across the state.”

The tour was organized by Johnson to relay issues she thinks the Kitzhaber needs to be aware of, Fore said. “It's important to see things on the ground and see what's going on in communities throughout the state,” she added.

Johnson and Fore's tour continues today in the coastal communities of Astoria, Warrenton, Garibaldi and Tillamook.

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