ODOT working on ideas to fix Grants Pass intersection

Grants Pass, Ore.– Last week, two collisions which occurred at the same intersection within the same day has now prompted action from the government.

For years, the intersection of Fruitdale Drive and Williams Highway have been on the Oregon Department of Transportation’s radar. But in light of the recent accidents, the department is picking up the pace to develop ideas to ultimately fix the problem.

According to ODOT, that intersection is one of the worst intersections in Oregon’s southwest region.

“On the south end of the South Y is actually the highest crash intersection we have in all of southwest Oregon,” said Gary Leaming, ODOT’s public information officer.

In the last ten years more than 40 accidents have occurred and while none have been fatal, the number is significant enough to garner change.

“Our district traffic engineer got a phone call from one of the neighboring businesses asking about when are we gonna do something about the crashes,” said Leaming. “Because he keeps hearing the crashes nearly every week.”

ODOT has a few ideas on how to resolve the problem. One idea being to eliminate the part of Fruitdale between the two highways. This means if you’re on Fruitdale you won’t be able to cut across to Williams Highway. You will instead be redirected toward downtown on Rogue River Highway.

The department understands while many use the small crossing as a shortcut to get to Williams Highway, the alternative might have to be taking a route from Rogue River Highway to Redwood Highway, which will be longer but hopefully safer.

This of course might frustrate commuters but the city is letting ODOT do what it needs to do.

“ODOT came to us and said, ‘What do you think about it?’ We said well we think it’s dangerous,” said Grants Pass Council President, Dennis Roler. “‘Something should be done about it and if you need to shut that off then you need to shut that off.”

The city will meet in January to discuss it more but since the highways are ODOT’s jurisdiction, the council doesn’t have much say.

“Do we still want to go ahead with that? We don’t really have any power over it. Their just kinda asking what our opinion is on it,” said Roler.

We spoke to a few businesses around the area and they agree something needs to be done.

“If it’s gonna help, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Eric Ball, an employee for BikeKraft. The store is located right next to the intersection. “You know if it’s a minor inconvenience to me so I can’t cut over to Fruitdale, it’s not the end of the world. If it’s gonna save some people from getting hurt.”

Ideas for fixing the intersection are still being worked out, but ODOT says it hopes to finish the project sometime next year.

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