New electronic signs have been installed on southbound Interstate 5 to warn motorists of congestion at the Aurora-Donald Interchange (Exit 278) in Marion County.
Transportation officials say the move is a short-term action to improve safety until a new off-ramp is constructed as part of the planned remodel of the overloaded interchange.
The new electronic warning signs have been installed at mileposts 278.79 and 278.88 and will warn drivers when traffic is backed up on the southbound off-ramp at the Aurora-Donald Interchange.
Increased congestion at the interchange has been an issue, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation, and frequent backups slow the movement of traffic on I-5 and create safety issues with vehicles approaching the stopped traffic.
The existing interchange was built 60 years ago and designed to handle the traffic of that day, when its closest neighbors were a handful of quiet farms. Today, it is the access point for three busy truck stops, as well as an RV park, and sees approximately 32,000 vehicles per day.
House Bill 2017, the so-called “Keep Oregon Moving” package, allocated $25 million toward the reconstruction of the interchange — which state transportation officials describe as “functionally obsolete.”
The first phase will come at an estimated cost of $50 million and is fully funded. Construction of Phase 1 will begin in 2022. Phase 2 has a $29 million price tag and is still in search of funding sources.
Another short-term action that has been completed is a widening of the I-5 southbound off-ramp. The widening of the ramp and the new electronic warning signs should help reduce the queueing and crashes that have resulted from the congestion until the much larger project is completed.
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