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Fun Facts

Portland raised the speed limits on city streets by a whopping 125% in 1905! What was the change?
The speed limit was raised from 8 to 10 mph.

What type of sign had its colors changed from yellow and black to red and white, and its shape changed to an octagon in 1953?
Stop signs.

There are more than a thousand intersections controlled by traffic lights in Portland today. What was used to control traffic in 1915?
Besides traffic cops, Portland police used one portable semaphore that was moved to where it was needed. The first permanent traffic lights in Portland were installed in 1927. Today there are about 5,000 traffic signals throughout the state.

An innovative, high-tech solution to traffic flow was implemented in 1966. What was that innovation?
Computerized traffic lights were first installed in Oregon.

How did the Highway Department respond to complaints of debris on the roads in 1928?
Highway Department mechanics slung a large electromagnet beneath a one-ton truck to pick up nails and other metallic debris from highways to protect motorists’ tires.

Traffic kicked up a lot of dust from the roads back in 1924. What did the Highway Department do to try to cut down the mess?
In an experiment to cut down the amount of dust rising from the roadway, the department oiled 71 miles of dirt road.

A change to highway signs was made in 1946 that helped nighttime travelers. What was that change?
Highway signs were changed from wood to reflective material.

How much did a gallon of gas cost in 1911?
A gallon of gas cost 16 cents in 1911.

When was the first gasoline tax implemented, and how much was it?
Oregon enacted the nation’s first gasoline tax in 1919 at one cent per gallon. The tax was doubled in 1921, raised from one cent to two cents per gallon.

How much did the Yaquina Bay Bridge cost when it was completed in 1936?
The Yaquina Bay Bridge was completed at a cost of $1.3 million.

When was the Pacific Highway completed in Oregon?
The Pacific Highway was completed in 1923.

How did the Sunset Highway get its name?
The Wolf Creek Highway was renamed as the Sunset Highway in 1947 to honor soldiers in the 41st (Sunset) Infantry Division of the U.S. Army.

Why did the Highway Department assemble a diving team in 1980?
The diving team was formed to perform underwater bridge inspections. The diving team still performs underwater inspections today.

When was the first automobile dealership opened in Oregon?
In 1903, the first automobile dealership opened in Oregon: the Fred T. Merrill Cycle Company of Portland sold bicycles and Ford automobiles.

How were roads built and financed in 1866?
In 1866, all able-bodied men between ages 20 and 50 were required to work two days a year on county roads or pay a $2 per day tax. That changed in 1901 when all males in Oregon between the ages of 21 and 50 were required to pay a county road poll tax of $3 per year.

What did divers younger than 15 years old have to take with them in order to drive in 1917?
Drivers under 15 years of age were required to be accompanied by a parent, guardian or the vehicle’s owner.

When was the law changed to set the minimum driving age to 16?
In 1920 the first driver licensing law was enacted, requiring a minimum age of 16 years to become licensed.

What natural disaster were highway crews dispatched to clean up after in 1980?
The eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Before 1983, what was the legal blood alcohol level in Oregon?
In 1983, the blood alcohol content level for legal intoxication was lowered from 0.10 to 0.08 percent. Other states soon followed.

When did it become mandatory for bicycle riders under the age of 16 to wear a helmet?
The mandatory helmet law for bicyclists became effective in 1994.

How many driver examiners were there in Oregon in 1931?
The first eight examiners — for the entire state — were hired in 1931 and were based out of Salem.

When were the first driver licenses with color photos issued in Oregon?
Oregon DMV began issuing color photo driver licenses in 1976.

When were the first female driver examiners assigned to DMV field offices?
The first female driver examiners were assigned to DMV offices in 1970.

What business was housed in the DMV Headquarters Building in Salem before it became home to DMV?
Before becoming the DMV Headquarters, the building at 1905 Lana Avenue NE in Salem was home to a Piggly Wiggly grocery store.

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