VENETA, Ore. — A fatal crash Monday morning has people wanting answers on what can be done for a dangerous stretch of Highway 126 between Veneta and Eugene.
People familiar with the intersection say it’s long overdue for improvements.
Aimee Thomas, 26, was killed when her car collided with a truck at the intersection of Highway 126 and Ellmaker Road. ODOT says in the last 10 years this intersection has seen 10 crashes, but this is the first fatality. It says the incident only reinforces its desire and current work to determine what options are available.
“It’s a very dangerous stretch of highway,” said Veneta resident Roger Soverns. “That’s a highly traveled area. I won’t travel it. I usually go around go down and out at central.”
That’s what just about everyone familiar with this corner had to say. On our KEZI 9 News Facebook page, comment after comment noted the need for a traffic signal. While that particular intersection isn’t within Veneta city limits, city officials say they’re working on it.
“The community, for 30 years, has been asking ODOT and our legislative folks to do some improvements, whether they are safety spot improvements or a larger capital project to improve the overall roadway,” said Ric Ingham, Veneta City Administrator.
As a result, a corridor study of that stretch of road was done recently providing long and short-term options. ODOT says while a lack of funding makes the long-term option of a four-lane highway only a dream for now, and the hope of a traffic signal is stopped by federal requirements, the concerns of the people aren’t being ignored.
“Even though the traffic crash history doesn’t meet the federal standards. I think the fact that there has been a fatal and a serious injury collision in this intersection may tip the scales. So we’ll take a good hard look at whether we can put a signal in at this location,” said Rick Little, ODOT Spokesman.
For now, ODOT is working on getting some of those short-term improvements, such as striping, turn pockets and better lighting done. It already put in a request for about $3 million to get started. If approved, work could be seen sometime in 2015 or 2016.