Public input changes plans for intersection

Shorty’s Corner, an intersection in Sandy that’s been the subject of much debate in recent months, will receive modifications intended to improve safety and ease the fears of concerned community POST PHOTO: KRISTOPHER ANDERSON - ODOT will create a two-stage left turn and improve warning signs at Shorty€sˇÃ„ôs Corner.

The Oregon Department of Transportation decided to install a two-stage left turn and improve the visibility of pavement markings at the intersection of Firwood Road and Highway 26. If funds become available, ODOT also may consider installing beacons to warn drivers they are approaching the intersection.

A date hasn’t been set to begin making improvements, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said.

Deciding to examine the danger of Shorty’s Corner was prompted by the death of 16-year-old Jordan Cox, a junior at Sandy High School whose pickup truck was struck by another vehicle as he pulled into the intersection on a Friday evening in September.

“Anytime there is a problem at an intersection — and a fatality is certainly a problem — we’re going to take a good look at it,” Hamilton said.

In the following days, while ODOT investigated the crash, local citizens, including many of Cox’s fellow classmates, started voicing their desire to see changes made to the intersection.

ODOT representatives met with a small group of Sandy High students in late October to discuss possible safety upgrades, and today, the students seem pleased with the decisions made.

“I really appreciate that they are actually doing something,” junior Madysen Herrera said. “I think that signing and striping modification will really make a difference because right now, you can hardly see at that intersection.”

One of the options ODOT considered was eliminating left turns from Firwood Road onto Highway 26 and instead diverting traffic through Southeast Trubel Road to Southeast Langensand Road and then onto the highway.

But the impact to residents along those roads was one of the reasons ODOT rejected that option.

Many community members broached the idea of installing a traffic light, but ODOT believed this would lead to an increase in accidents.

“The most important thing we wanted to do was increase safety at that intersection and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Hamilton said. “Installing a traffic signal would not help us reach that goal.”

But a two-stage left turn hopes to bring added safety. As cars turn left from Firwood Road onto Highway 26, heading west, they will pull into a lane that will allow them to merge with traffic.

ODOT warns that frequent snowplowing could make it difficult to complete the modifications.

“We want the public to understand the dangers associated with the road,” Hamilton said. “We try to be very aware of how local people use the intersection and what they see. It was very informative to hear input from the students and hear how their family and friends use the intersection.”

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