During the past several years, the Oregon Department of Transportation has produced an Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP) for Staley’s Junction, the intersection of U.S. 26 (Sunset Highway) and OR 47 (Nehalem Highway), and completed initial planning work for a new interchange at this location. At this time, the funding is not available to construct a new interchange.
An interim pilot project was completed in 2011 to add variable speed signs on U.S. 26 near the junction with OR 47.
Variable speed signs now activated - how do they work?
The variable speed sign project focused on improving overall safety for left-turning vehicles from OR 47 onto eastbound U.S. 26, which can be a difficult maneuver during peak traffic periods, particularly on summer weekends. The average crash rate at this intersection is higher than on other similar highways. Variable speed signs are used to slow the approaching traffic on U.S. 26 during peak periods by temporarily reducing the speed limit. Slower moving traffic on U.S. 26 will allow vehicles turning onto the highway to make their maneuver more safely.
Two new variable speed signs and warning beacons (one in each direction) have been installed on U.S. 26 on either side of OR 47. Signs are linked to traffic sensors that record traffic speed and volume to determine the speed limit. 50 mph is the posted speed limit in the area. Drivers on U.S. 26 will see flashing beacons if the speed limit drops below 50 mph. The speed limit will vary from 30 to 50 mph, depending on the traffic conditions. Speeds will not change more than once every 15 minutes. Oregon State Police and Washington County Sheriff will enforce speed limits as displayed.
Variable speed technology has proven effective at reducing collisions and improving traffic flow. Specific benefits include:
• Up to a 30% reduction in collisions
• Up to a 22% increase in roadway capacity
• Better information about traffic congestion ahead
This is the first project of its kind in Oregon, although variable speed projects have been implemented in many other states. Project construction began June 2010 and the signs were activated May 2011.