Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials have taken citizen comments and tweaked their plans to improve safety along on a 5-mile stretch of Highway 101 between Benham Lane and McVay Road in Harbor.

ODOT will again solicit comment about the changes to the highway and any other concerns at a two-hour open house that begins at 6 p.m. Aug. 23, at the Harbor Rural Fire Protection District meeting room on West Benham Lane in Harbor.

The U.S. 101 striping plan calls for the removal of one northbound travel lane to make room for a center turn lane.

ODOT officials note, too, that this is a temporary solution until additional funding can be found to rebuild and widen Highway 101 to accommodate two travel lanes in both directions with a center turn lane and wider shoulders.

The proposal is the culmination of citizen feedback ODOT officials received during an open house last December.

Then, citizens indicated their biggest concern is a stretch from Raymond Lane to the Oregon/California border, whose safety would be enhanced by a center turn lane. That is in the plans, said ODOT Senior Transportation Planner Thomas Guevara Jr.

Plans have been in the works for more than five years, and will address safety concerns citizens have regarding drivers who have to stop in the lane of traffic to turn into a driveway or sidestreet. Many cited first hand examples. Other parts of the project will realign driveways and intersections to make traffic flow safer and providing bike and pedestrian lanes.

ODOT realizes the stretch is dangerous; its Crash Analysis and Reporting Unit reported a 400 percent increase in crashes there between 2009 and 2015.

Speed limits, despite citizens’ requests to lower them, will not be changed.

Some said the narrow width of Winchuck River Road is an issue; ultimately, it will feature 10-foot bicycle and pedestrian shoulders, Guevara said.

The earliest the corridor plan could obtain funding approval is 2023, as funds, garnered through federal gas taxes, are competitive and allocated every two years. The agency has already allocated funds for projects statewide out to 2021.

For more information about the U.S. 101 Corridor Plan, contact ODOT Senior Planner Tom Guevara at 541-957-3692.

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