by: TYLER FRANCKE | WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - The intersection of Highway 99E and Young Street/Highway 214, as seen last week. The Woodburn intersection is the planned recipient of a $2 million Oregon Department of Transportation safety project next year.The intersection of Highway 99E with Young Street/Highway 214 in Woodburn has been tabbed for an approximately $2 million safety project the Oregon Department of Transportation is planning for next summer.

According to ODOT, the upgrade will widen and realign the intersection itself, construct wider curb radii to accommodate truck traffic and reconstruct the signals for the intersection.

Melissa Sutkowski, ODOT project leader, said these improvements have been on the agency’s wish list for some time, primarily due to the troubles heavy-truck operators have had negotiating the tight intersection, especially the turn onto 99E northbound from 214, and from 99E southbound onto 214.

“We have had some difficulty getting trucks to make correct movements through there,” she said. “It’s very tight, and trucks have a very hard time making those turns. They are continually taking out signal equipment or getting into the opposing lane to make that turn.”

She said that, in the past, some truck drivers have overcorrected so far that they’ve ended up on the sidewalk, damaging light poles and signal equipment that is there to direct pedestrians.

Because of this history, the upgrade is classified as a “safety project,” which is funded through a line item in the ODOT budget specifically earmarked for projects that improve driver and pedestrian safety.

But, Sutkowski added, the juncture is important for more reasons than its truck traffic.

“It’s kind of the gateway to Woodburn from the Young Street side,” she said.

In addition, ODOT will be improving sidewalk ramps at this intersection and other locations throughout Woodburn, as part of a pavement project that will be upgrading ramps along Highway 99E from Aurora to Salem.

Sutkowski said this project will target existing ramps that do not meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Ramps that meet the standards, or sidewalks that have no ramps at all, will not be improved.

The total cost of the intersection project is estimated at just over $2 million. A bid letting is scheduled for spring 2015, with construction beginning next summer and being completed by fall.

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