Photo ODOT The Oregon Department of Transportation is seeking public input on how to improve safety along Highway 199.
The highway to the Oregon Coast has a history of fatal crashes
The Oregon Department of Transportation is hosting an online open house to share ideas on how to improve safety along Highway 199, a dangerous route Rogue Valley residents use to reach the coast of Oregon.
The virtual meeting will take place from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1. Pre-registration is required to view and comment on the virtual presentation. Register on the project site at www.oregon.gov/odot/projects/pages/project-details.aspx?project=R3-P006.
Also known as the Redwood Highway, Highway 199 is one of the deadliest roads in the state. People die trying to cross intersections and driveways along the highway, when they run off the road and crash into trees, and when they crash into each other head-on.
“I think there is great interest in Redwood Highway. Many people have an opinion. Lots of people take this route,” said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming.
Southern Oregon residents and tourists use Highway 199 to reach attractions such as the majestic redwood groves, Oregon’s Caverns National Monument, and the coast.
For the rural communities that line the highway, the road serves as the main street. Others use the freeway to get to work, school and home, and truckers haul goods along the route, Leaming said.
“It’s a highway that has many different uses,” he said.
ODOT works with local residents, law enforcement, elected officials and others to improve highway safety and raise awareness of its dangers.
Further improvements are proposed along the highway from the Applegate River south of Grants Pass to the California border, except for the town of Cave Junction. A first draft of potential improvements has been completed.
The virtual open house is the first of two opportunities for the public to learn about the project and comment on proposed improvements. A second meeting has not yet been scheduled.
Leaming said ideas include improving intersections, adding turning lanes, creating soundtracks to alert drivers when they leave their lane, adding raised medians, building passing lanes , widening shoulders for pedestrians and cyclists, removing trees and adding flashing beacons at points where people cross the highway.
Leaming said ODOT may be working on technical fixes for some of the safety issues, but drivers must also do their part to keep themselves and others safe.
“We can’t fix drunk driving. We can’t fix distracted driving. We cannot correct speeding tickets. It’s a partnership with the driver. Don’t be distracted. Drive defensively. Obey the speed limit,” he said.
For those unable to attend the virtual meeting on Tuesday, a recording of the open house and presentation will be posted on the project website. The website will be open from February 1 to 11 so people can review the proposed improvements and provide input, ODOT said.
Contact Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.