WHITE CITY, Ore.– Jackson County and the Oregon Department of Transportation are working together to fix a dangerous portion of Highway 140 known for frequent fatal crashes.
The plan is to provide an affordable and safe solution to the area by using a highway roundabout.
While ideas to install traffic signals along the highway were initially brought up, that was soon tossed aside after data showed crashes didn’t change with one in place. Rather than facing the typical T-bone crash, drivers instead dealt with rear-end crashes. A roundabout, according to ODOT, nearly voids any type of fatal crash.
“It’s a lot safer than a signal as far as the severity of injuries and fatalities,” said ODOT spokesperson Gary Leaming when discussing the roundabouts.
The plan for the roundabout involves building and extending Foothill Road through the Hoover Pond County Park and connecting it with Highway 140 and Atlantic Avenue on the northern side. That extension portion would be conducted by Jackson County after which ODOT would build the highway roundabout. It’s estimated to be about 180 feet in diameter.
Kershaw Road would also change no longer allowing people to cross the highway preventing T-bone crashes.
But before getting the go-ahead, ODOT ran a test course to see if different vehicles could handle the roundabout.
“We had about 10 different vehicles test the course, all the different legs,” said Leaming. “So the idea behind that was not only to get the drivers familiar with the course but also to get any feedback from them on any kind of design changes that we need to do.”
While some minor changes are still needed, ODOT hopes to open up bidding for the project in February 2020.
“It pays so much in the long run for our society to build a roundabout where it’s needed, where it fits,” said Leaming.
ODOT and the county estimate the two projects will cost $5.75 million combined. Two million will go towards the Foothill Road extension and $3.75 million towards the roundabout. It’s expected to be completed in the fall of 2020.