ODOT Public Affairs
Highway crash rates decline to 37% of statewide average
With the crash rates for fatal and serious injuries dropping significantly, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is decommissioning the 9-mile OR 22 Safety Corridor. The route was designated a safety corridor in 1993, and the average crash rate for the entire corridor is now 37 percent of the statewide average for similar roads.
As of November 1, the double fines signs will be taken down and doubling of fines based on the safety corridor designation will no longer be in effect. In approximately six months, the safety corridor signs will also be removed.
The safety corridor was one of 12 statewide and was located in Polk County from the Salem bridges to the junction of OR 22 and OR 99W near Rickreall. It becomes the seventh safety corridor to be decommissioned since the program began in 1990. Safety corridors are decommissioned when crash rates for fatal and serious injuries no longer exceed 110% of the statewide average for similar roadways.
"This is good news for motorists. Traffic safety has improved significantly on that stretch of highway," said Troy E. Costales, administrator of ODOT's Transportation Safety Division. "Also, it has been our experience that fatal and serious injury crash rates do not increase after a safety corridor is decommissioned."
ODOT has worked closely with Polk County, Oregon State Police, City of Salem, the Highway 22 Local Traffic Safety Committee and local citizens to take actions to make the corridor safer. Actions to increase safety have included: increased police enforcement; engineering and construction improvements to the highway; and increased public awareness (education).
A key safety addition to the corridor was the construction of the Rickreall Interchange (Highway 22 and Highway 99W) in 2008, which removed an existing traffic signal. The intersection had been the scene of a number of fatal and serious crashes over the years. The $16.1 million project significantly reduced the number of crashes at that intersection. Other highway safety improvements since 1993 included: better drainage to reduce water and ice on the roadway; durable traffic lane lines; safety corridor signs and other signage; 3.8 miles of median barrier; 1.3 miles of concrete shoulder barrier; and reduced speed limits in some areas. A public awareness education campaign and increased police patrols also helped make the difference.
"The community's commitment to safety is really what has made the difference and has turned this in to a success story," said Jane Lee, Region 2 manager in Salem. "But we aren't finished. We will continue to monitor crashes, patrol the highway, encourage safe driving behavior and work with the community on other ways to further improve safety in that area."