Public reception to the installation of traffic signals and street lights at Seven Mile Lane and Highway 34 in 2016 has been overwhelming, according to Linn County Roadmaster Darrin Lane.

Now the Oregon Department of Transportation is preparing to start the second round of projects designed to improve traffic safety along Highway 34 between Lebanon and Corvallis.

The Seven Mile Lane project was a cooperative effort between Linn County and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“As far as the signal goes, I have had 99.9 percent positive feedback,” Lane said. “I feel like it has been very successful in accomplishing the goals of improving safety and allowing crossing traffic to get through safely.”

The lights became active on Dec. 21, 2016.

By the end of the month, ODOT plans to begin the $3 million second phase of projects that will include:

• Installing three miles of concrete median on Oregon 34 between Tangent Loop Road and Hinck Road.

• Restricting Columbus Street turns to right-in and right-out only.

• New lighting, striping and signs on Goltra Road.

• New signs and striping for Colorado Lake Drive.

• Upgraded lighting for Denny School Road.

Lane said the Goltra Road project will go a long way toward improving safety issues for the corridor. He said the more illumination, the better on long stretches of roadway.

“In the end, these projects won’t prevent every kind of accident from happening,” Lane said. “There will still be people who do dumb things such as driving under the influence or speeding. The move to right-only turns at Columbus should make a big difference in the number of crashes there. That should be a big help in terms of safety.”

ODOT plans to install a concrete center median on Highway 34 at the Columbus intersection.

“Plans to make this change have been in place for several years because that intersection has been recognized as a high crash corridor since at least 2008 due to the number of crashes, how often they have occurred, and how severe they have been,” ODOT spokeswoman Angela Beers Seydel noted in a prepared statement. “Between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2016, there were 23 crashes involving injuries or fatalities. Of those 23 crashes, 14 were left-turn crashes. Nine of the 14 were from Columbus Street turning on to OR 34 eastbound.”

ODOT says drivers from south Albany and Linn-Benton Community College looking to access the freeway via a left-hand turn from Columbus Street can go to Seven Mile Lane and use the signal. To reduce the chance of severe rear-end crashes in the westbound direction of Highway 34, concrete median islands and separators were installed to calm traffic. A radar detector also was installed at the signal to increase green times if a vehicle couldn't stop in time.

New lighting, signs, and striping at Goltra Road and Colorado Lake Drive, as well as upgraded lighting at Denny School Road, will improve awareness and safety. Median rumble strips also were installed last year to help reduce crossover crashes.

Drivers can expect to see crews in various locations day and night in the project area.

ODOT asks the public to use caution and drive carefully. Lane closures will not be allowed during peak travel hours to minimize traffic impacts. But lanes may be closed Monday through Thursday between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Additionally, work closing a lane at Goltra Road may be done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Work without lane closures may be done during the day in other parts of the project area.

For more information on the project, including a background video: http://www.oregon.gov/odot/projects/pages/project-details.aspx?project=19662.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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