Giving local residents a chance to offer input on a one-year study of the Highway 140 Corridor the Oregon Department of Transportation kicked off the proposed project with the first open house on July 27at the White City County Auditorium. Most of those in attendance were there because of serious concerns for safety and possible impacts to their property and businesses on that route. Some, such as Eagle Point resident Charles Strom, were there just for information.
In order to involve the public, ODOT will not only host several open houses but also have both technical advisory and citizen advisory committees. TAC will be made up mostly with businesses including Knife River, Cross Creek Trucking and Amy’s Kitchen. CAC will include residents impacted by the corridor. “We are trying to involve people and have them participate,” said Tom Guevara, ODOT Planner from the Roseburg office.
The corridor used by many residents of Eagle Point and north to reach I-5 encompasses roadways that are now under ODOT jurisdiction after a 2009 trade with Jackson County. Beginning at the I-5 Exit-35-Blackwell/Seven Oaks Interchange, the corridor includes Blackwell Road, Kirtland Road, Pacific Avenue, Avenue G, Agate Road to Leigh Way and east of White City on 140 to the intersection of Brownsboro Road.
The project will help move freight to I-5— getting it off of Highway 62, said Guevara. With a host of deficiencies on the route, ODOT hired consultants, David Evans and Associates, Portland, to come up with a plan. Representing the firm at the open house was project engineer, Jennifer Danziger.
Guevara cautioned those present that any plan presented by consultants will still be subject to available funding. “It will be what is best for the area but not necessarily perfect. What will give the biggest bang for the buck,” he added.
Projecting an influx of residents in the future, the plan will estimate the amount of traffic to the year 2034. With part of the corridor consisting of undeveloped industrial land, taken into consideration will be the number of traffic lanes needed to accommodate possible future industrial growth. Center turn lanes will also be taken into calculation so trucks making deliveries to businesses will not block moving traffic. Not written in stone, the plan will be a living document and can be updated if needed, said Guevara.
Residents on the route expressed concern over the project. They are already living in hazardous conditions because of volume and speed of traffic and wondered if a wider road with more lanes would increase risk. In some cases, when crossing the road daily to mailboxes, traffic already whizzes by a mere three-feet away. There are also bicyclists on the road. Guevara discussed a possible multi-purpose path for citizen safety.
In order to accommodate the corridor, ODOT may need to purchase private property. One couple was concerned because their house is already close to the road. If they lost property, how close would their front door be to the road they wondered out-loud? Would their driveway be impacted? Their fears were not assuaged by what they heard and they left the meeting feeling uneasy.
“We don’t anticipate going over 80-feet for the right-of-way,” said Guevara. A right-of-way is already established but he did not have the figures on dimensions at the meeting. Guevara did say, however, if a third lane is needed, ODOT might require more than 80-feet. Purchasing partial or complete properties will be the biggest expense. In the case of purchasing a driveway, he assured property owners that access to the property would be provided.
Other concerns discussed were access for Erickson Air-Crane, wetland issues and several concerns about impact to a popular nursery.
In order for the 140 corridor to be viable in the future, some conditions need improvement such as substandard width on Blackwell Road; poor pavement conditions on Agate Road and Leigh Way; poor condition of the Agate Road railroad crossing; the lack of a Foothills Road Extension traffic signal and too high of a speed limit; and sharp turns in some parts of the corridor.
Some of the proposed solutions include realigning Kirtland/Pacific and Pacific/Avenue G. Avenue G and Agate Road would be widened to three lanes with access (driveway) management. Agate would also get an upgraded railroad crossing Kirtland Road will be considered for additional delineation to improve roadway visibility and rumble strips to alert drivers to edge of pavement. Additional turn lanes at Highway 62 and 140 would add mobility for future congestion.
Input from the open house will be incorporated into the Oregon 140 Corridor Plan. In a second open house possibly in the fall, ODOT will present solutions compiled from citizen, TAC and CAC input. Even then it may be as long as ten years before work actually begins on the corridor, said Guevara. There are many steps to take before it becomes a reality. For more information or to offer input contact Guevara at 541-957-3692 or by e-mail at Thomas.Guevara@odot.state.or.us
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent