Hwy 34 Safety Corridor: Mission accomplished

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Crashes on the 10-mile stretch of Highway 34 between Interstate 5 and town claimed 9 lives in 1989.

Another 4 people died in crashes there in 1993, the year the State of Oregon established a Safety Corridor there.

Twenty years and $4 million later, there are still fatal crashes on the road, which sees more than 30,000 cars per day.

But state traffic data shows the average crash rate has dropped to 46 percent below statewide average for similar roads.

That's led the Oregon DOT to decommission the Safety Corridor.

"The decommissioning represents a success that reflects the coordination and hard work by ODOT, Linn County, Oregon State Police and citizens committed to safety," said Nicole Charlson, Traffic Safety Coordinator for ODOT.

The route is one of eight remaining Safety Corridors in Oregon. It becomes the 12th corridor to be decommissioned since the program began in 1989.

As of July 25, all safety corridor signs, including the double fines signs, will be removed from the highway.

The doubling of fines based on the safety corridor designation will no longer be in effect.

"It has been our experience that fatal and serious injury crash rates do not increase after a safety corridor is decommissioned," said Charlson.

Since the first Safety Corridor signs went up on Hwy 34 in the winter of 1993, the state has invested more than $4 million in safety improvements in the corridor.

Those improvements include:

  • A realigned intersection with Oakville Road that included improved illumination and signals
  • Beacons on warning signs installed at five separate intersections
  • A public education program that resulted in increased public awareness
  • Increased police enforcement through overtime patrols
  • Installation of drains to eliminate standing water and ice
  • Improved grading, paving, signals and signs at the intersection with Peoria Road
  • Construction of dual left turn and receiving lanes that improved traffic flow at the South Bypass
  • Construction of multi-use path and frontage road from SE Roche Land to NE Wolcott Street to reduce conflict points and provide local access consistent with the highway's designation as an Expressway
  • Installation of shoulder rumble strips for 3.4 miles of the corridor.

But the end of the safety corridor doesn't mean an end to efforts to improve safety on the highway.

"We are moving forward with plans to improve operation of the Corvallis Bypass and OR 34 in 2015 by adding an additional right turn lane from the Bypass to eastbound OR 34, and extending the multi-use path on the north side of the highway to Riverside Drive," said Amy Ramsdell, ODOT manager for the region.