Electronic card readers, other tools to enhance safety are installed on Highway 97 south of Bend

“We want people to be safe,” says ODOT’s Peter Murphy

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – To make driving safer, the Oregon Department of Transportation is installing a traffic and weather information system, including speed sensors, drive-time readers and electronic message signs on Hwy 97 between Bend and La Pine.

“We want people to be safe,” ODOT Region 4 acting public information officer Peter Murphy said on Tuesday. “You know, anything we can do here and anywhere in the state to be safe when you’re on the road is important, and let people know how long it takes, for example, to get from point A at point B helps them plan.”

The new signs mean that if road conditions are icy or there’s a major accident causing a delay – wildfire smoke, any impact on travel – you’ll be able to quickly get up-to-date information on safety, travel and the weather.

It will also allow emergency responders to identify incidents more quickly.

The $2.4 million project includes seven smart roadside weather management sites on Highway 97.

Sites will collect and send information to ODOT’s TripCheck system.

“What we’re going to do is establish it, set it up, and kind of let them test for a while,” Murphy said. “It will probably take until this fall, before they actually work.”

The project in the coming weeks is split into two sections and will result in one-lane closures and periodic 20-minute stop-and-wait closures.

The good news is that most of this work will be done at night.

“Really, we’re becoming a more informative department, and we think that’s going to work long term,” Murphy said.

The project is expected to be completed by July 1.