The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has increased warnings and other safety enhancements at a particularly nasty curve on US 20 east of Eddyville. The sharp turn has been the scene of a number of crashes; the most recent took the lives of two Toledo residents, Daniel and April Loper, October 25. The curve at milepost 24.3 has been the site of many drivers failing to slow down to the advisory speed of 30 miles per hour. Within ten days of the Lopers’ deaths, ODOT installed transverse rumble strips in the westbound lane; installed Speed Reduction Markings along the edges of the roadway; installed pavement legends warning of the curve; and secured safety funding for overtime patrols by the Oregon State Police. The Speed Reduction Markings are stripes along the fog line that create an optical illusion encouraging drivers to slow down.
“We moved very quickly because we’ve observed continued disregard for the advisory speed,” said ODOT Area 4 Manager Amy Ramsdell. “We’re also planning additional safety measures that are targeted at reducing speeds and improving the safety of all motorists. Compliance with the advisory speeds is critical to the safety of all motorists.” she said. The curve is a temporary one allowing traffic to access a small segment of the new alignment on the project to build a wider, straighter section of US 20. The curve will be eliminated when traffic is moved to the completed new alignment in 2015. It is one of seven curves along the highway between Eddyville and Newport, engineered to handle traffic safely at 30 miles per hour. For westbound motorists, the curve is the first they come to after a long straight stretch of highway, and ODOT engineers believe that’s one reason why motorists are not slowing down.
“We’re doing everything we can to make the curve more visible and alert motorists to the advisory speed,” said ODOT District 4 Manager Joe Squire. “We previously added enlarged warning signs and we’re now planning to place construction barrels and a portable message sign to help provide that alert in time for holiday travel,” he said. ODOT is also considering longer term solutions but in the meantime is urging motorists to be aware of the curves, drive defensively, and travel at the advisory speeds.