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OR 551 at Ehlen Road Safety Project

Project Description

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Marion County have identified the Oregon 551 (OR-551) at Ehlen Road intersection as a location for a safety improvement project. The project includes the addition of left turn lanes on both approaches of Ehlen Road and protected left turn phasing for those left turns from Ehlen Road onto OR-551 to improve safety and operations of the signalized intersection by reducing crashes and congestion in the future. Due to the storage lengths needed for the left protected turn lanes, the turn lane on the west leg of Ehlen Road extends through the adjacent Boones Ferry Rd intersection. In order to effectively reduce congestion and improve operations at the signal, this proposed left turn lane will need to be protected by a concrete traffic separator, limiting left turns to and from Boones Ferry Road onto Ehlen Road. The traffic separator is needed to keep a westbound vehicle on Ehlen Road from waiting in the through lane to turn left onto Boones Ferry Road, blocking other westbound cars as it tries to find an opening in the eastbound traffic waiting at the traffic signal. Left turn movements to and from the south at Boones Ferry Road could be accommodated by adding a new local county road connection (as illustrated by the blue or red alignments), between the highway and Boones Ferry Road south of the Western Wagon Village. See link below for design proposal graphic.

Traffic Analysis Information

All design alternatives are based on a combination of traffic counts, vehicle classifications and future growth predictions. Analysis is not done for the absolute peak time, but is projected to be the 30th highest traffic hour during the year, which is typically a warm weather weekday when schools are in session. On Thursday, June 5, 2016, ODOT video-taped the OR 551 at Ehlen Road and the Ehlen Road at Boones Ferry intersections to catch a nice weather day when schools are still in session and commuter traffic is present (a “typical” work day). The video tape was processed (all vehicles counted and classified by vehicle type and movement) and adjusted to a daily volume and furnished to the traffic analyst to determine existing and future traffic volumes. The future growth is determined based on historical growth in the local area at two points in time, the projected opening of project and then the design year (usually 20 years from day of opening).
New Traffic Signal Evaluation and Approval Overview
For a traffic signal to be considered on the state highway system, it is necessary that an engineering study is completed which addresses whether the location meets criteria set forth by nationally accepted practices (in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) referred to as signal warrants. Those warrants look at volumes of all users on all approaches, intersection geometry, and crash data. As a minimum criteria at least one warrant has to be met for a signal to be considered. Satisfaction of one warrant in and of itself is not necessarily sufficient justification. Engineering judgment as to the site-specific characteristics shall dictate the need for a signal installation. We must prove that an installation of a signal is necessary to enhance the overall safety and/or operations of the intersection. The investigation has to determine whether a traffic signal is the appropriate traffic control as signals can introduce concerns as well as solve them.
Changing Posted Speeds in Oregon
Oregon has an established process for setting posted speeds other than statutory ones. The process to consider posting a lower speed on a local road (Ehlen or Boones Ferry Roads) is discussed on the Speed Zone Program website at the link:
Public Involvement
A project open house was held on November 21 at the North Marion High School Commons in Aurora. ODOT and Marion County appreciate all of the interest and input received so far, during the early stage of this project.  We are working on responses to comments and suggestions that we were not able to fully answer during the open house event.  The responses will be made directly to commenters and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section will also be place on the project web site soon.
Your feedback on the project, via phone or email, to the staff listed below, is always welcome.  ODOT will continue to provide informational updates to the community as the project progresses.  We plan to share updates and project newsletters on our web site, as well as mailing them to surrounding property owners and residents.  The public meeting will most likely be held in the Fall of 2017.
Next Steps


Topographical and Boundary Surveys: December 2016-January 2017

Traffic Analysis of Newly Proposed Concept: December 2016

Responses to Comments and New Proposal: December 2016 - January 2017

Environmental Studies: Fall 2016-Summer 2017
Preliminary Design: Winter 2017-Fall 2017
Final Design: 2018-2019
Construction:  2020


Cost Estimate


$7 million




ODOT Project Leader:
Julie GaNung – (503) 400-4239
ODOT Public Information Officer:
Lou Torres – (503) 986-2880
Marion County Traffic Engineer:

Julia Uravich-503-588-5036