A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Hwy. 20: One danger still ignored

Written November 5th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
In the fog Friday morning, a ruck waits - and waits -- to turn left from Independence Highway.

In the fog on Friday morning, a tractor-trailer waits — and waits — to turn left from Independence Highway.

ODOT has announced more than $8 million in projects to improve safety on the Albany-Corvallis Highway, mostly on the Corvallis end. But the hazards at the junction of Highway 20 with Independence Highway remain unaddressed and unresolved.

Last week ODOT announced that starting in 2017 or later it would:

♦ Spend an estimated $1.7 million to widen the shoulders of Highway 20 through the sweeping curve at Garland Nursery.

♦ Install a median acceleration lane and make related improvements for traffic turning left from Granger Avenue, at a cost of $2.3 million.

♦ Build a two-way left turn lane for the half-mile from the Children’s Farm Home access to Merloy Avenue, $4.2 million.

♦ Put up more “chevron arrow” signs to warn drivers of upcoming curves, $91,000.

♦ Upgrade traffic signals in Corvallis for $80,000.

The two million-plus at Granger would be better spent on finally installing a regular traffic signal, replacing the blinking warning lights put in about 10 years ago the last time ODOT tried to make this highway safer. More blinking lights, along with wider pavement and a lane for left turns to go north, were installed at Independence Highway at the same time. Those additions have helped, but not enough.

ODOT is reluctant to add more traffic signals because, presumably, Highway 20 is supposed to move traffic instead of stopping it every few blocks. But that didn’t keep the state from adding signals at Conifer and Circle in Corvallis some years ago. At Independence, the situation is often as dicey as it was at those other places where signals now exist.

Independence is a busy truck route, carrying one fast-moving Republic Services truck after another, especially because of the added activity at the compost operation on Camp Adair Road. (The pavement on Camp Adair has begun cracking under all the heavy loads, in case the Benton road department hasn’t noticed.)

But making a left turn from Independence on to Highway 20 toward Albany is often impossible. And for long trailer rigs it seems especially risky since their tail ends barely clear the railroad tracks when they have to wait. Maybe this accounts for many more trucks using Spring Hill Drive through North Albany to get to the light on Highway 20 at the bridge. That has led to other issues, including the propensity of top-heavy trucks going fast to make the light and tipping over on the steeply-banked corner.

It’s time for ODOT to take this seriously. Traffic signals at Independence would solve many problems. And at Granger too. (hh)


10 responses to “Hwy. 20: One danger still ignored”

  1. James Engel says:

    So.. what has ODOT done to train/educate the dumb drivers that use this road? PEOPLE… it’s a driver’s fault for collisions, NOT a road fault! Pay attention, plan your move, be patient and accelerate with determination! I NEVER investigated an accident where the road was in control (Albany PD). It’s your hands on that steering wheel! Combine your brain with your arms/hands to get thru the intersection. Do you still need your mother (ODOT) to get through your driving challenges? … JE

  2. Gothic Albany says:

    Anothic epic ODOT fail. I too noticed the defining silence of Independece Intersection. And 1.7 million to make the shoulder wider at Garland Nursery? Here is a pro tip for the ODOT transportation engineers: Google the term “turn lane”.

    If we want to fix the root cause of hwy 20 problems: too many cars on the road, we need to start looking at solutions that fix the root cause: overpopulation.

    • centrist says:

      One person’s overpopulation is another’s open country.
      How do you propose to reduce the overpopulation?
      And finally, ODOT didn’t fail. use exceeded design. If you want a never-fail solution, come up with all the money in the world by taxation.

      • Marvin McConoughey says:

        Reducing population is not a doable goal, but reducing the rate of population gain is doable. Three things to do are to revamp government policies and practices that promote population increase, improve contraception programs and techniques, and discourage unwed births to teenagers

    • Tony White says:

      This causes me to remember Jonathon Swift’s solution to overpopulation in Gulliver’s Travels: kill every other baby (we’re already doing this) and butcher them to sell as meat. Solve two problems at once. That Swift guy had a cruel sense of “humor.”

      • hj.anony1 says:

        Killing every other baby already? Eyebrows went from raised to eyes wide open! Must be election eve. wtf

  3. Roger Nyquist says:

    They need to move highway 20 at least 50 yards south or the railroad tracks 50 yards north to adequately correct the design deficiencies in the area of hwy 20, at both the Independence and Granger intersections. As a matter of design and engineering it is a pretty straight forward proposition. The politics of moving an existing road into a wetland area is not as simple.

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    Eyebrow raising comments from today. From overpopulation to that concocted saying “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” A similar ring to roads don’t kill people. Stupid drivers kill people on the roads.

    Reminds me of a bumper sticker seen recently. “Don’t believe ever thought in your head.”

    Agree with your observation HH. ODOT is spending a chunk of change and not much of it is going towards east Benton county. Interesting.

  5. HowlingCicada says:

    From the development of self-driving vehicles are lots of techno goodies to help dinosaurs, like radar to see through the fog.

  6. Tony White says:

    Corvallis’ standard fix for every traffic problem is to install a traffic light. The DOT is right that Hwy 20 should keep moving along. A better solution would be to restrict inappropriate vehicles from using rural roads. Direct them instead to roads capable of handling their weight and special maneuvering needs. So they have to go a little out of their way. For the sake of the greater good, a couple of extra miles won’t hurt them.


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