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‘Wine Country’: New road brings new challenges

During the early part of this week, things looked a little disorganized on the western access streets in Hood River.

For a variety of reasons, it may stay that way for awhile.

Fence-style traffic barriers and temporary signs for local businesses were scattered around West Cascade Avenue, on Country Club Road, and the newest road in that part of town, Wine Country Avenue.

The road project known as “Country Club realignment” is actually the creation of that new road, Wine Country.

Admittedly, there will be potential for more confusion. Wine Country Avenue, while wide and smooth, is less than a mile long, and then it merges with Country Club just west of the junction with the I-84 off-ramp at exit 62. Perhaps the names will gradually merge themselves, into Wine Country Club Road. (Country Club Road itself is a historical name, given that the golf course for which it is named is open to the public and lacking in any elitist attitude.)

Follow the signs, which will all be present along with surface striping by next week, and remember two basic rules with the realignment: if you want to go between Country Club and West Cascade, you now have to take Wine Country, which T’s with West Cascade and then winds around in back of Red Carpet and Timberline condos before merging with Country Club.

The old Country Club intersection — next to exit 62 — is now one-way: drivers cannot turn onto Country Club (that’s what Wine Country is for) but cars may exit Country Club north to the freeway and Westcliff Drive.

It’s all intended to facilitate safer travel out Country Club, eliminating that congested 90-degree turn.

Completion of the project will be a welcome sight for the two businesses most affected by creation of the new road: Stonehedge Restaurant, reachable by a new access drive off Wine Country, and Mid-Columbia Marine on Cascade.

The biggest impact from the change, at least at first, will be the incidence of sudden stops or veers by drivers who are unfamiliar with the change as they make the left turn onto Wine Country. The other will be U-turns in front of Red Carpet and Szeremi’s, or farther north and west, as people realize they missed the turn to take them west to Country Club.

Drivers in that part of town are advised to be on the alert for each other as we all adjust. This may be one case when it is locals who are more easily mixed up than visitors, as we’re all used to the patterns of the thoroughfares, and now they are different. Be patient with each other as we get used to one of the more significant traffic pattern changes in recent memory.

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