Scores of drivers in a hurry to speed through the French Prairie region on Wednesday, Aug. 21, were in for a surprise.
A total of 17 officers from 7 different law-enforcement agencies took part in a traffic-safety blitz conducted my the Marion County Sheriff's Office Traffic Safety Team.
The officers saturated the area between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., making 148 traffic stops, issuing 119 citations and 76 warnings. Of those stops, 75 were speed related.
MCSO Sgt. Jeremy Landers noted that this is the third traffic safety blitz the team has conducted in the French Prairie area since May of this year, following several motor vehicle crashes which resulted in serious and fatal injuries over the past year.
Joining MCSO in the blitz were Yamhill County Sheriff's Office, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Wilsonville Police Department, McMinnville Police Department, Newberg-Dundee Police Department, and Woodburn Police Department. It is funded through an Oregon Department of Transportation grant.
Landers said tht in addition to the increased law enforcement presence in the area, Marion County Public Works and ODOT placed portable reader boards in the area informing drivers of the enhanced safety patrols.
The departments team up in a three-pronged, traffic-safety approach: Education, Engineering and Enforcement.
Engineering elements include working on enhanced visibility of road signs and lines, center-line rumble strips, speed-zone transitions and electronic speed-monitoring devices, such as those entering St. Paul.
"As part of these efforts, the Sheriff's office continues to collaborate with Marion County Public Works, the Oregon Department of Transportation, other law enforcement agencies and community stakeholders to seek out improvements which promote traffic safety on Marion County roadways," Landers noted.
The stakeholders, which include area residents and first responders from area fire districts, have been especially unnerved by increased traffic, speeds and crashes in the area.
"This topic has become very important to us, especially over the last few years it has become evident," Gervais-area farmer Molly McCargar said at a traffic-safety press conference earlier this summer. "It really hit home five years ago when a neighbor of ours, Scott Miller, was killed after being rear ended on his tractor about two miles from here, driving down French Prairie Road."
That conference was hosted collaboratively with MCSO, ODOT, Marion County Farm Bureau and area farmers.
"In the past 12 months there have been 12 fatalities on Marion County (rural roads)," McCargar stressed. "And that's 12 too many. At the end of the day, I want to be able to return home to my family. And I'd like our employees to be able to return home to their families."
Landers added that the MCSO Traffic Safety Team is currently planning for its next traffic-safety blitz in the area.
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