Power was restored to the small community of Barlow west of Canby Thursday, remediating what local residents and emergency officials recognized as a particularly dangerous situation at the intersection of Barlow Road and Highway 99E.
Normally one of the Canby area’s busiest intersections, the four-way traffic signal was not re-energized with the rest of Canby’s stoplights on Sunday night. Instead, the intersection remained dark for an additional three nights, until power was restored around 5 p.m. Thursday.
“There have been many accidents and cars in ditches on 99, especially at night,” one Barlow resident told The Canby Current on Thursday morning. “It’s pitch black, and people are driving right through the intersection without stopping. We are surprised that there isn’t at least a flashing orange sign to warn people.
“During the day, the traffic is backing up all the way to Arndt Road when the train is going by, and people are doing U-turns in the middle of the road.”
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office recorded at least two collisions at the intersection in the past week, including one that happened Wednesday night, though they could provide few details since the highway is under state jurisdiction.
Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English confirmed that the crossing was a major concern for them this week, calling it “especially treacherous.”
“When the traffic lights are down, we know you’re supposed to treat it as a four-way stop,” English said. “But you have to be aware that some people may not know where all the stoplights are in the dark, and they’re just going with the flow of traffic.”
There was a good reason the state did not put extra flashing lights or equipment at the intersection, English said: It was all already being used elsewhere.
“They just didn’t have any extra equipment to put out,” he said. Then, with a chuckle, he added, “You know, these really are unprecedented times, and at this point, we all know what ‘unprecedented’ means without having to look it up in the dictionary.”
As for Barlow residents, they are grateful to have the juice back on and the hazard of an unlighted intersection removed.
“Power came on here at about 5, but we don’t have water still,” a resident told us. “I think there is a problem with the Barlow well. I think a shower at a hotel is in my future.”
Portland General Electric told reporters during a media availability Thursday morning that it is still expecting to meet its pledge of restoring power to at least 90% of those experiencing outages by Friday night.
As of Thursday evening, however, the utility was still reporting more than 40,000 Clackamas Countians with their lights out — more than any other county in the area served by PGE. Marion County, with 28,439 customers still without power, was the only other county with more than 10,000 residents still in the dark.