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Neighbors Demand Turn Lane

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Just months after a fatal crash at a busy intersection, neighbors are demanding a turn lane after another car crash on Wednesday.

“I heard boom, boom, boom,” said Christine Kramer, who lives on Merloy Avenue. “Three loud bangs.”

It is a noise Kramer and her neighbors never want to hear.

“As I ran out of the garage, I was dialing 911,” Kramer said.

Just two months after a fatal crash at the intersection of Highway 20 and Merloy Ave, neighbors heard that familiar sound Wednesday afternoon. Kramer knew there was another wreck.

“I just was praying,” she said. “ I was absolutely sick to my stomach, my heart skips a beat when it happens, and I was just traumatized.”

The Oregon Department of Transportation says law enforcement crews were dispatched around 1:15 pm Wednesday afternoon. Neighbors say there were not any life-threatening injuries, but at least one person was transported to the hospital.

“I came outside and there was a Volvo that had stopped right in front of my neighbor’s driveway,” Kramer said. “She was heading southbound down Highway 20 when there was a gentleman waiting to make the left-hand turn onto Merloy Avenue heading northbound. He got rear-ended, got put into oncoming traffic, hit her car head on, and she landed over here.”

A few years ago, one neighbor was making the same left-hand turn when she was rear ended. Her 8-year-old son was in the back seat.

“As I was sitting there with my blinker on, all of a sudden we got rear-ended at a very high rate of speed,” Jodi Hanson said. “Luckily there weren’t any serious injuries, but every time I’m waiting to make a left-hand turn onto my street, which happens several times a day of course, I’m nervous.”

Neighbors say enough is enough. They are demanding a left-hand turn lane installment on Highway 20.

“I will do everything in my power to do so,” Kramer said. “And if it doesn’t happen, I will not stay here. Because every single day that I live here, I am traumatized by every noise that I hear.”

Kramer says neighbors want the turn lane not only for the safety of drivers, but for the safety of kids who wait at the corner for the bus.

“If the kids were here at 1:00 in the afternoon when that accident happened – there was plenty of debris here,” Kramer said. “I mean they very well could have gotten killed by something flying.”

Other neighbors share her concern.

“An accident is just waiting to happen there that’s going to involve children,” said her neighbor Pete Bober. “The speed limit goes from 45 to 55 just before the Children’s Farm Home, and there’s a tremendous amount of traffic, especially at peak periods of time.”

Kramer says kids waiting for the bus have to stand close enough to the highway in order for the bus drivers to see them.

The Corvallis School District says it is working to make changes so buses will stop no matter what – even if they do not see any kids. That way, the district says kids can stand farther back from the highway while they wait.

ODOT says the intersection falls within the 10 percent Safety Priority Index System (SPIS). That means because of crash frequency or severity, the intersection is among the top 10 percent of crash sites in the state. ODOT did a cost benefit analysis on the potential project, and determined that there would be a benefit to install a turn lane, which would cost approximately $3 million.  However, the project would have to compete against other safety projects or construction projects competing for funds. ODOT says the turn lane proposal would not be considered for construction until at least 2016.

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