ODOT switches gears, allows Hwy 62 speed changes

SHADY COVE — ODOT has reversed an earlier decision and will allow a speed limit reduction on Highway 62 where the road enters the town's northern city limits.

ODOT's revised decision came in a report issued earlier this month that said the highway's posted southbound speed limit, a few hundred feet before a blind corner, will be reduced from 45 to 35 mph to match the speed posted within most of the city limits. To provide drivers a safe transition, speed also will be reduced from 55 to 45 mph a few hundred feet farther north.

Highway 62 serves as Shady Cove's main street.

"After review of your concerns and additional investigation," said ODOT Traffic Investigations Coordinator Kathi McConnell, "we have changed our speed zoning recommendation."

In April, residents complained that when ODOT conducted a speed study last November and decided a lower speed limit was not justified, officials hadn't given enough consideration to safety and the blind curve entering the city from the north.

Following a public meeting with ODOT traffic engineer Dan Dorrell, the City Council voted to appeal the ODOT decision and Dorrell promised to take residents' safety concerns back to the agency.

"I'm real happy about this decision," said Dorrell. "At first I was hearing from Salem that it was a done deal and we're done here, but after we brought the issues to them, they said, 'OK, it's still open, and we'll take a closer look.' "

Mayor Ron Holthusen said the city must still formally accept the recommendation and he expects the council to do that at its next meeting June 7.

"This is a good example of citizen concern and involvement that drove the council to take up the issue and ultimately find a resolution," Holthusen said.

Once the city's approval reaches Salem, Dorrell said his department will receive an order to install the signs. After that, he said, installation should take two or three weeks.

"On the day of installation, I plan to call the Jackson County sheriff and have somebody out there," Dorrell said. "Maybe not writing tickets, but certainly giving warnings and slowing those folks down."

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.

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