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Sandy crash site fix challenges ODOT

State engineers will ask for input at meeting in Sandy


by: CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC: ODOT  - This satellite view of the intersection shows why the crossing is a problem, and the changes ODOT intends to make. A public meeting next Monday will help local residents understand the problem and get all their questions answered.Anyone who drives from Sandy on Highway 211 toward Eagle Creek probably gets a little nervous when approaching the Dubarko Road intersection at the bottom of a hill.

Those drivers are nervous because more than 95 percent of the intersections across the entire state are ranked safer than the crossing at Dubarko.

The dubious distinction of appearing in the top 5 percent of high-crash intersections is well earned. The Highway 211 and Dubarko crossing has seen 26 crashes in a five-year period between 2006 and 2010.

Most crashes that occur at Dubarko cause serious injuries because of vehicle speed, said a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

On Monday, Oct. 29, ODOT engineers will talk with local residents about the situation and answer questions about the plan they believe will reduce the number of serious-injury crashes.

They will share information about the crash history at the intersection as well as the remedy they believe will improve both sight distance and drivers’ ability to see oncoming vehicles.

That fix generally involves clearing brush and cutting back an embankment, as well as realigning the Dubarko Road portion of the intersection.

Instead of a normal 90-degree angle at the intersection, Dubarko crosses Highway 211 at a 70-degree angle. ODOT engineers say that makes it difficult for drivers on Dubarko to see far enough on the highway, especially when the driver is trying to look through the passenger’s side window to see the highway.

These crashes are not like fender benders. One of the cars in each crash typically is traveling downhill at about 55 mph, even though the speed limit is 45.

With perhaps one exception, the victims went to the hospital, many in critical condition. One was killed.

The intersection and crash reports were audited last year, and most often police were told by highway drivers that “the car just pulled out in front of me.”

Dubarko drivers reported before the crash they did not see a car on the highway.

With the crash rate increasing and an average of one crash every two months, ODOT already made some changes this past summer, but the agency will not finish the major changes until late 2013.