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New south entrance to Madras is topic

by: Graph by Becky Johnson - The proposed South-Y realignment

ByHolly
   With increased traffic through downtown Madras, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the city of Madras have teamed up to reconfigure the city's south entrance.
   Tonight (Nov. 1), at 7 p.m. in the Madras City Hall, the public is invited to comment on their proposal to realign U.S. Highway 97/26 as it enters Madras from the south.
   Rather than diverging from the southbound lane at K Street, the northbound highway will begin to head west just past the Truck Stop -- cutting off a corner of the transmission shop. It will meet South Adams Drive at Tracie Street, where South Adams Drive will become the new northbound highway into town.
   South Adams Drive will become one way -- northbound -- from Tracie until it joins Fifth Street north of the Jefferson County Fire Department.
   Along the way, as many as a dozen parcels will be affected, according to Gus Burril, public works director for the city of Madras. Some property will be lost to right of way, while other properties will lose highway access.
   The city's rapid growth, and the failure of the J Street intersection between Fourth and Fifth streets, have created the need for the new transportation system plan, which has been on the city's radar since at least 2001, according to Burril.
   "It's the development in Madras that's increased demand of cross traffic at that intersection," said Burril. "Right now, there is basically not enough queuing distance between north and southbound Highway 97/26."
   Burril explained that if a truck and trailer rig turns onto J Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, it would take up the entire block.
   "It's creating the potential for vehicles to be backed up on the actual highway, creating the hazard of hitting another vehicle," he added.
   The city will share in the costs of the realignment, which must be reviewed and approved by ODOT -- from design through construction.
   In order to ensure that the city collects enough from new development to pay for the cost of the improvements, the Madras City Council has hired an economic analysis firm -- FCS Group of Portland -- to study transportation system development charges.
   "They're going to make sure that we're on track with our transportation SDC to pay for our cost-share with ODOT for this intersection and realignment of Highway 97/26," said Burril.
   This year alone, there have been 19 subdivision applications submitted to the Madras Planning Department. Each new home will pay an SDC to help pay for future transportation development.
   "Right now, we believe this is about five years out for construction," said Burril, pointing out that in order to meet that timeline, the city must approve the new transportation system plan, which the Madras Planning Commission will review tonight.
   "The city is interested in partnering with ODOT to start design and public right-of-way acquisition as soon as possible," he said.