Drivers better slow down on Airport Road, Hermiston, on the way to next week’s Umatilla County Fair. And don’t plan on parking along the road to avoid paying for parking, either.
The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a 25 mph limit to Airport Road between South Highway 395 and South Ott Road, which leads to the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, the new home for the fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo. The commissioners also approved no-parking zones for both shoulders of the road. The restrictions are for the duration of the fair, Aug. 8-12.
Umatilla County Undersheriff Jim Littlefield and county public works director Tom Fellows said the changes are about increasing public safety due to the new location of the fair.
Airport Road lacks a posted limit, but Fellows explained that does not mean drivers can zip along at Oregon’s default limit of 55 mph. Rather, he stressed, motorists much follow Oregon’s basic rule and drive for the conditions of the road.
Fellows said the county is improving those conditions. Work crews on Wednesday watered and smoothed the gravel on Ott Road to prepare it for a dust abatement application, and the county is going to clear away some brush and weeds along Airport Road to give better visibility.
Airport Road will be the only access to and from the new fairgrounds from Highway 395, and Littlefield said it is too narrow for parking on either side. Drivers who do could be in some trouble.
Illegal stopping, standing or parking is a class D traffic violation under Oregon law, according to a statement Thursday from the sheriff’s office.
“Violators can receive a minimum fine of $110 and their vehicle can be towed away without prior notification,” according to the statement. “Please avoid being a violator by refraining from parking in the No Parking Zone or by blocking a private driveway.”
Littlefield said the agency will make efforts to contact drivers that park illegally to give them the opportunity to move their vehicles. The sheriff’s office doesn’t want to rely on towing cars unless it has to, he said.
Fellows and Littlefield advised fair goers to pay extra attention when driving to and from the fair. The new venue will not be familiar to everyone, so a bit of extra precaution could go a long ways to prevent any problems.
Parking at the fairgrounds will cost $5 for each entry, but Mid Columbia Bus Company will run free shuttles on Friday and Saturday from 2-10 p.m.
The shuttles will stop at the Hermiston Conference Center, city hall, the Wal-Mart parking lot near McDonald’s and Hermiston High School en route to the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center.
Law enforcement also will have a presence at the fair just as in years past. Littlefield said other agencies, such as the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, provide extra police power to keep on eye out. Having officers on site, he said, has proved an effective approach for curtailing any problems early.
He said it comes down to having police on site and not needing them versus needing them when they are not there.