May 30, 2019
On Memorial Day (Monday, May 27), U.S. Highway 101 traffic through Reedsport sustained long delays, with northbound vehicles backed up 3-4 miles to Winchester Bay. We would like to explain our understanding of the problem and how we plan to avoid similar traffic delays in the future.
ODOT and prime contractor Knife River Materials are currently working on a project (www.ReedsportHighways.com) that will make several safety improvements along U.S. 101 in Reedsport. We are replacing the traffic signal at 22nd Street (near the high school), adding a pedestrian beacon at 20th Street (near 7-Eleven), converting the four lane “uptown” section of highway between Schofield Creek and the high school to three lanes, and making other improvements. Construction is scheduled for completion in September.
Earlier this month, workers disconnected the magnetic sensor loops for the traffic signal at 13th Street due to road construction near McKay’s Market. As a result, the signal was placed on a timer, which had little effect on normal traffic in the week leading up to Memorial Day. On Monday, however, there was a much larger amount of northbound traffic as holiday travelers headed home. The signal timing could not accommodate the increase, causing traffic to back up.
Although ODOT maintained at least one open lane in each direction through the weekend, the temporary traffic configuration in the uptown area of U.S. 101 also may have contributed to the congestion. When completed, the area between Schofield Creek and the high school will include one lane in each direction as well as a center turn lane. Currently, the two travel lanes are open, but we have not opened the center turn lane yet. As motorists attempted to make left turns across oncoming traffic, others were forced to wait behind them, which likely added to the traffic congestion on Memorial Day.
On Tuesday, ODOT staff visited the 13th Street intersection and made several adjustments to the signal’s timing. We are also looking at other options, which may include the use of temporary sensors at traffic signals and opening up additional lanes for Independence Day and DuneFest (July 23-28). We will continue to monitor traffic over the next few weeks and adjust signal timing as needed. We are also going to look at how we can respond more quickly when traffic problems like these arise.
Anyone who has additional questions or concerns can contact Dan Latham, ODOT Public Information Officer, at 541-957-3601 or Dan.Latham@odot.state.or.us.