Make the McKenzie Connection!

Safety study ID's 6 sites 

ODOT outlines potential Hwy. 126 projects

In a report distributed last week, the Oregon Department of Transportation has come up with proposals to address a half dozen problem areas along the McKenzie Hwy. Those sites - from Walterville to Leaburg - were developed as a result of input from a February 9th public meeting, as well as online and other submissions.

The first stretches from Milepoint 12.9 to 13.15. It includes the Walterville Canal Bridge and the Page Lane intersection. Between 2016 and 2020, there were seven reported crashes in that area. Three resulted in a fatality or serious injury.

ODT says the narrow Walterville Canal Bridge and its raised sidewalk, creates a higher risk of fixed object and head-on crashes.

Potential solutions could include widening shoulders and installing shoulder or centerline rumble strips. Another upgrade might involve installing high-visibility striping.

Widening would be very expensive and likely couldn't be implemented within the next five years, according to the report.

Segment 2, at the Leaburg Dam Spillway, covers the roadway from Milepoint 19.15 to 19.40. The Safety issue there is related to seven reported crashes that occurred between 2016 and 2020. Two involved a fatality or serious injury. Curves on the highway make it difficult for drivers to see oncoming traffic. Feedback from the community noted that drivers often speed along this segment where there is a higher risk of roadway departure crashes.

Potential solutions are similar to some suggested for the canal bridge area as well as installing warning signs to guide drivers through the curve located just west of Leaburg proper.

A curve in the stretch from Milepoint 29.15 to 30.05 is listed as a 2020 Safety Priority Index System (SPIS) site. This means that the curve's location in this segment had one of the highest and most severe crash rates in the state for the previous three years.

Between 2016 and 2020, there were 11 total crashes, with two resulting in serious injury. The main safety issues on this segment result from the narrow roadside and steep drop-off on the eastbound shoulder, which officials say makes high-severity roadway departure crashes more likely.

Widening roadway shoulders in this section may have environmental constraints and would be very expensive. Again, ODOT notes work there likely couldn't be implemented within the next five years.

There were a total of four reported crashes from 2016 to 2020 at the east entrance of Holden Creek Lane, with one resulting in a fatality. Two of the four crashes happened when it was dark outside.

The main safety issues at this intersection, officials say, are the lack of signs and poor visibility.

Potential solutions there could include upgraded striping and signs to make the intersection more visible, installing intersection lighting, and increased use of high-visibility striping.

The intersection of Hwy. 126 and Johnson Creek Road is located near several Leaburg businesses. Between 2016 and 2020, there were a total of six crashes, with one resulting in serious injury.

Upgraded striping and signs to make the intersection more visible could reduce problems there. So could installing intersection lighting.

The one-lane covered bridge on Goodpasture Road makes that intersection with the highway difficult for drivers on both roads to see vehicles entering the intersection. but it also makes it even harder for drivers on Hwy. 126 to see other vehicles, ODOT notes.

Between 2016 and 2020, there were a total of three crashes, with one resulting in a fatality.

Besides upgrading striping and installing signs to make the intersection more visible, the agency recommends installing flashing beacons that turn on as vehicles approach to warn other drivers.

ODOT says they're now considering short-term and low-cost potential solutions for each location that can be implemented in the next five years by some corridor-wide solutions, including rumble strips and curve warning signs.

The study includes a number of recommendations that aren't limited to specific areas. Among these are calls for consistent signage to alert drivers of entrances to areas like recreation sites installing driveway delineation posts. Other alerts might include pedestrian crossing signs, congestion ahead markers, or posting street names on both sides of the road, as well as installing more frequent milepost markers.

Comments can be directed to Transportation Planner Bill Johnston by phone at 541-747-13546, or via [email protected].


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