ODOT addresses Phoenix interchange safety following fatal crash

Phoenix, Ore.-  Saturday’s accident was the first major crash involving the exit 24 Phoenix interchange since it opened last year. And people NBC5 News spoke with say that there have been several minor accidents over the last few months. According to ODOT though, the new interchange is actually safer.

The accident put the new Phoenix interchange in the spotlight. Now people are asking questions. Oregon Department of Transportation’s Gary Leaming says they don’t think the intersection is to blame.

“We believe the interchange type is safe and we just don’t know think the type contributed to this fatality,” Leaming says.

81 year old Ellis Feinstein died after the crash on I-5. Troopers say he went the wrong way after driving through the interchange.

NBC5 News spoke with people who live and work near exit 24. While some of them say they’re concerned about safety there, ODOT says the traffic pattern is actually designed to reduce accidents. It’s known to be safe nationwide. And the diamond design typically protects drivers from the type of crash that killed Feinstein.

According to Leaming, “The geometry of them and the signing make it so that it’s very difficult to get the wrong way on them.”

Oregon State Police agree. Saying that someone would have to jump a curb or come up the whole other side of the roadway to get on the ramp that Feinstein did. Figuring out how that happened is a part of OSP’s investigation.


While Saturday nights accident is still under investigation Leaming says there’s one important thing to consider anytime something bad happens on the road.- that drivers are human. And human error plays a huge factor in any accident on an interchange or highway.


Oregon State Police expect to wrap up the investigation by the end of this week. The paperwork and reconstruction reports will likely take a few months.


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