County Designates Safety Corridor on Deadly Stretch of Rural Roads

Marion County this week became the first in Oregon to designate a local safety corridor along McKay, Yergen and Ehlen roads, a route that has seen a rise in fatal crashes since the Newberg-Dundee bypass opened in 2018.

The safety corridor designation doubles traffic fines in the designated area, which is located between Oregon Highway 219 and Interstate 5. County officials anticipate safety corridor signs will be installed early next week.

The action was made possible under House Bill 3213, which allowed the Oregon Department of Transportation to create a safety corridor pilot program for counties.

Safety corridors have been designated on state highways for many years, and county officials said they have proven effective at reducing crash rates.

“For several years, people have been bypassing bottlenecks on I-5 through Marion County rural roads,” Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis said. “We appreciate the work of Rep. Bill Post and other legislators who sponsored legislation to make county safety corridors a possibility.

“We’ve done a great deal of work to get to this point and appreciate the cooperation between the county, state, and local communities to help improve traffic safety in northern Marion County.”

The McKay/Yergen/Ehlen corridor has been a high priority for the past several years due to higher-than-expected crash rates and people driving at excessive speeds, county officials said.

County Public Works has already installed safety enhancements such as center-line rumble strips and wider striping; larger warning, speed limit and stop signs; additional pavement markings; and designating no passing zones.

Future enhancements include flashing red beacons on stop signs, increased intersection lighting and driver speed feedback signs. The county is also pursuing grant funds for the construction of centerline turn pockets at major intersections within the corridor and other enhancements.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has coordinated with neighboring agencies to conduct targeted patrols to educate drivers on speed and other safety issues.

Marion County Public Works Director Brian Nicholas said the county committed to developing the safety corridor as soon as HB 3213 was adopted.

“The formal designation of this safety corridor fulfills that promise and the county is committed to working alongside the community for future enhancements,” Nichols said.

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