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ODOT projects to improve safety

Highway 26 at Dover, and Highway 97 at Cherry


by: HOLLY M. GILL - Flaggers control traffic at the intersection of Dover Lane and U.S. Highway 26, where ODOT is making safety improvements.Two of the most hazardous intersections in the county, one south of Madras on U.S. Highway 26, and one north of town on U.S. Highway 97, are in the process of receiving safety upgrades.

Knife River Corp., of Bend, which was awarded the construction bid of $1.9 million in April, is in the process of improving the intersection of U.S. Highway 26 and Dover Lane, and U.S. Highway 97 at Cherry Lane.

Over the past decade, a history of crashes has earned both intersections placement among the top 10 percent for the Oregon Department of Transportation's Safety Priority Index System, according to Rex Holloway, community liaison for ODOT Region 4, who noted that crashes are cyclical.

"Still, they can be good indicators of safety issues we need to address," he said.

At Dover Lane, which was the highest ranked site in Central Oregon in 2009, ODOT had previously made numerous changes, including enlarging the signs, improving sight distance and widening the shoulder, but the improvements did not seem to reduce the crash rate.

This time, the changes are more significant.

"What we have found there is that when people are coming up on Highway 26 (from the east at Dover), they're coming in at a skewed angle, and it's not perpendicular to the highway, and that seems to block vision of cars," said Holloway.

"What we're trying to do is make it more perpendicular there," he said. "We've widened the road, and we'll be striping it so that people will be coming in at a different angle," said Holloway, adding that there will be a center median strip to delineate the traffic lanes.

The median strip on Dover Lane will be installed this week, and the current plan calls for paving next week. Reflective markers on Dover Lane will draw attention to the lane changes and stop signs, and additional signage on the highway will draw attention to Dover Lane.

Holloway said that the projects were combined to make the operation more efficient. "Dover had excess material, and we needed that material for Cherry," he said.

As part of the Highway 97 project, ODOT is making improvements from Northeast Hilltop Lane, which accesses North Madras Heights, to Clark Drive.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - At the intersection of U.S. Highway 97 and Cora Drive, just north of Madras, ODOT is realigning Cora Drive to make it perpendicular to the highway. The intersection with Clark Drive, to the north, will be closed, and turned into a cul-de-sac for residents of that stretch of road. "At Hilltop, one of the things that's blocking the view is the guard rail," he said. "We're filling (the shoulder) in, so we don't have to have the guard rail. People who are making a lefthand turn off Hilltop onto 97 will have better visibility."

An analysis of the factors leading to crashes on that stretch of highway concluded that southbound vehicles on U.S. 97 are traveling at a high rate of speed and using the passing lane, and there is limited visibility with the intersections of Northeast Cherry Lane and Hilltop Lane.

Northbound vehicles attempting to west onto Cherry Lane are stopping in the passing lane and aren't visible to vehicles behind them, while southbound vehicles attempting to turn east onto Cherry Lane are also stopping in the passing lane, which creates problems for northbound vehicles that want to use the passing lane.

Additionally, vehicles turning toward town from Cherry Lane don't have adequate sight distance.

As a result, ODOT intends to remove the southbound passing lane, and widen the highway in that area to create turn pockets at both Cherry Lane and Cora Drive.

"Most of the residents of Cherry Lane are very supportive of getting a lefthand turn lane," Holloway said.

Cora Drive, which currently forms a Y, will be realigned to be perpendicular to the highway, and further north, Clark Drive will be closed at the highway. That stretch of Clark will become a cul-de-sac, and residents will need to go south on Cora Drive to reach the highway.

In order to make the Cora Drive intersection perpendicular, Holloway said they are using fill material to build the intersection up. Knife River is currently working on the embankment and storm drainage in the Cora Drive area.

The improvements on Highway 97 won't be completed until September.



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  • 23 Sep 2014

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