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Highway 26 project designed to reduce turn-lane crashes

ODOT to lengthen turn lane at Orient Drive for safety

If you take Highway 26 toward Gresham during the day, you will soon notice construction taking place at Orient Drive.

An Oregon Department of Transportation contractor started a safety improvement project at the intersection on Monday, Feb. 23, to help alleviate a large number of crashes at the intersection. Several of the incidents are rear-end crashes in the westbound right-turn lane of U.S. 26, noted ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator Brandy Steffen.CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC: OREGON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - Construction crews will work through May to widen the right turn lane from Highway 26 to Orient Drive, as well as upgrade signage and traffic signals.

The project will likely be completed in May.

Of the 73 crashes at the intersection of Highway 26 and Orient Drive between 2004 and 2014, 38 were rear-end crashes because of vehicles following too closely, while 14 were because of drivers traveling too fast for weather conditions and two ended in one or more fatalities, according to ODOT’s crash analysis and reporting unit.

“ODOT has been working on improving the safety of the intersection of Southeast Orient Drive for the past three years as the project was studied and then engineering details were finalized,” Steffan said. “However, ODOT is constantly working to improve safety on this heavily used highway.”

The construction safety project will extend the right turn lane from Highway 26 to Orient Drive.

“Lengthening that turn lane will hopefully help make the intersection safer,” Steffen said.

The three month-long project will also upgrade signage and the traffic signals. Traffic lights will be installed with a reflective backboard to make them easier to see.

A sign also will be added to the highway to alert eastbound travelers of the signal ahead.

Construction will mostly take place during the day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to minimize traffic impacts as well as improve safety for travelers and construction crews. Some work also will be done at night.

During installation of the traffic signal poles, all lanes may be closed for up to 20 minutes at a time at night.

“We do it at night to minimize traffic impact,” Steffen noted. “But that won’t be until May.”

March 9 through April 10 will have the most impact for travelers. During that time, the right turn lane from Highway 26 to Orient Drive will be closed to all traffic, which will be directed to Kelso Road. Motorists will still be able to access Jarl Road as well as exit onto Highway 26 from Orient Drive.

There should be no traffic impacts during the first phase of construction.

ODOT held an open house meeting about the project on Friday, Feb. 20, at the Sandy Grange, 34705 S.E. Kelso Road.

Steffen said the meeting had a nice turnout.

“The public was supportive of the project and hopeful that it will improve safety on U.S. 26,” Steffen said.

For more information on the project, visit the safety project's webpage .