Health & Wellness

Traffic, safety still steady at the pumps

Creswell 76 Station has set up safety guidelines for employees and customers. A hand-sanitizer stand is available inside the convenience store. Photo by Erin Tierney/The Chronicle

CRESWELL — Oregon this week lifted the prohibition on self-service gas in response to Coronavirus, but it won’t affect service at the Creswell 76 station, owner Bill Spencer said. 

The temporary exception allows drivers to pump their own gas until at least April 11, but only pertains to stations that already do not have attendants, or attendants who are uncomfortable pumping, Spencer said.

“We still offer the same pump service as usual,” Spencer said while disputing recent reports that it is safe to pump your own gas during the pandemic. 

“That is totally false,” he said, noting that his staff wears gloves and are required to use hand-sanitizer. He cited the potential numbers of unsanitized hands on the same handle.

“In terms of keeping people safe, you either draw a barrier around the person or around the environment — or maybe a combination of the two,” Spencer said. “In this case, the car is the environment.”

Workers are allowed to only wash windows if the customer’s windows are all the way up, Spencer said, noting they are also sanitizing credit cards and maintaining social distance when giving back the cards, which is a five feet hand-off from card-owner to gas pumper. 

Spencer has set up hand-sanitizing stations that customers are required to use upon entry. 

Across the street at Point S Tire and Auto, a business Spencer co-owns with Rory Tyler, he said that business has slowed and “that’s good, because Creswell people are doing a great job following the stay-at-home guidelines.”

He said fuel sales at 76 are steady because many people are still working. He thinks that people are putting off general car maintenance that can be delayed, like oil changes, at the tire shop until after the quarantine. Spencer anticipates business picking up a lot once restrictions are lifted.

Until then, Point S staffers are working around the shop and catching up on projects they’ve been meaning to get done for a while, like installing all new LED lights. 

As for Spencer’s plans to redevelop the 76 station and surrounding area, he said that construction of the new station is scheduled to start in August with an end-year opening and that planning has not yet been affected. 

He said he won’t know if the project will ultimately be delayed until the timeline becomes clearer regarding an end to strict social-distancing measures.

He said a determining factor will be when construction workers will be allowed to work on the site in groups, noting that the demolition of Joe’s Diner as part of the expansion is on the top of the to-do list. 

Spencer said he hopes to get the demolition permit this week for Joe’s Diner, and shortly thereafter will move ahead with asbestos removal.

“This won’t be a one-week or one-day demolition,” Spencer said, referring to material in the diner that might be salvageable and recyclable. He said that the actual demolition should be completed within 30 days.

There are two phases planned for the project – the gas pumps and store, and then the carwash. The pumps will be in operation until the new station opens, and only then will phase two begin with the demolition of the old station to build the carwash, which has a 2021 timeline.

The new station will have six lanes instead of the current four, and will have an additional four to five feet of stacking room between dispensers, giving cars more room to wait in line. Instead of five dispensers, the plan is to have either eight or nine. Access points to the station will be 36 feet, which is rare for most entry points, and Spencer said he paid specific attention to the design of traffic flow.



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