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Ideas for 126 aired

Safety updates on ODOT’s five year agenda

LEABURG: All the seats were full when the Oregon Department of Transportation hosted a safety study meeting on February 4th. Lacy Brown, an ODOT transportation engineer specializing in safety told the group ODOT would study data to understand crash patterns and combine that with community input to come up with recommendations for about 56 miles of Hwy. 126 between the metro boundaries and the junction with U.S. 20.

Some of that community input had already been gathered from over 100 people who logged onto ODOT’s Highway Safety Study website dedicated to Hwy. 126 East. Some of those comments provided a general overview ranging from eliminating passing lanes within area communities to concerns about narrow shoulders along the roadway. Others were more specific, mentioning things like the narrow bridge over the Walterville canal and westbound traffic buildups created when someone is turning onto the Goodpasture covered bridge.

Information collected between 2016 and 2020 revealed that within the study area, an average of 89 crashes occurred per year. A dozen of those were categorized as either serious or fatal accidents with half involving speeding or impairment. When those crashes occurred, Brown said the involved vehicles wound up hitting fixed objects, sideswiping another car, overturning or hitting another vehicle head-on.

For solutions, ODOT says it plans to identify ten safety focus areas to implement ways to improve safety that are low-cost, feasible, and buildable within the next five years.

Better striping, Brown said, would fit into the lower-cost category but would likely apply to the whole study area. She said plans are underway to develop “small community toolboxes” that would be different from the more rural sections of Hwy. 126 where street intersections or concentrations of driveways don’t exist.

For people planning to ask for speed reductions within small towns, there was some good news. In the past speed zones were set at a level equal to how fast 85 percent of vehicles were going as they passed through. That has since been reduced to the speed of 50 percent of those travelers.


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