Newport: Gateway to the Mainland
Posted by SounderBruce , in Baker County Feb-21 2014 · 1,271 Viewspacific nw waterfront railway resort town beach
Newport, one of the "big four" ferry terminals in the Whatcom Sound, is home to a thriving tourist resort located at the westernmost point of the Newport Peninsula. The city is home to barley over 3,000 permanent year-round residents, but can swell to over 24,000 during the summer when students and white-collar workers look for a close getaway from Baker City without having to risk losing Internet access on one of the islands.
The two docks at the Newport Ferry Terminal are served by frequent "lifeline" ferries coming in from Redwood Island and Kitsap Island as well as frequent commuter ferries to Baker City and Westport on Westgate Island. The terminal was recently upgraded to have a bypass lane for daily ferry users that have the area's regional transit smart card that can be scanned from a vehicle's windshield while quickly boarding without waiting for snowbirds fumbling around with loose change and old discount coupons.
The city was built around the terminal and the waterfront clocktower at the exact center of the street grid. The terminal also acts as the western end of the Newport Highway, which is the only road connection between Newport and its neighbors to the east.
The North Beach neighborhood is home to six high-rise hotels as well as the only parking garage for miles around. The art-deco Neon Triplet Hotel are the oldest on the island, having opened weeks after the little North Beach in 1939.
At the center of North Beach is a hedge maze park, which is frequented by police officers looking for lost children and lost drunks.
The larger and less popular South Beach is located in the middle of condominiums and the Queens Hotel, which features faux-Victorian architecture and a small nature park beside it. The Newport Fountain Park is great place to cool off during the summer without having to be too close to seawater, originally built as a large gazebo for local events that were too large for the neighboring Newport Municipal Building.
Without rental cars or seaplane service, the only two options for pedestrians to leave Newport is either boarding WTA Route 299 with express service to Portland and Bay City or riding the fast and streamlined Newport Express passenger train to Baker City, which travels at a maximum of 125 mph (250 km/h) while passing through Portland and Bay City. The low fare of $7 one-way attracts massive amounts of riders during the summer months, which necessitated expanding the Newport Terminal Station to eight platforms and expanding service to 24-hours from May to September as well as 10-minute headway during peak hours.
The rail line is located in the median of the Newport Highway on the thin Newport Isthmus, home to hundreds of native trees replanted after the reclamation of land when the highway was widened to 4 lanes less than a decade ago.
During peak hours of commuter ferry service, two trains will leave Newport seconds behind each other in order to serve all the walk-on passengers traveling towards Baker City and Bay City.
The Newport Highway, once a two-lane shoulder-less country road, was upgraded to freeway standards and moved to an elevated bypass of the Port of Portland in order to better serve expanded ferry service.
A parting overview of Newport itself. Thanks for reading!