The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the early stages of developing a project to improve safety on the U.S. 26 Mt. Hood Highway just east of Rhododendron and west of Oregon Highway 35, where the crash rate is twice that of other primary, rural non-freeway Oregon highways.
Planned Safety Improvements for US 26
An independent team of traffic safety, emergency response, and highway professionals produced the following safety recommendations for U.S. 26 that will be implemented, starting 2014.
- Paving between Rhododendron and OR 35 Junction
- Cutting back the rock slope on the west end of the project for rock fall mitigation
- Highway widening to install a median barrier
- Installing a median barrier between the east- and westbound lanes for about a 2.3-mile stretch of U.S. 26 from east of Kiwanis
Camp Road to east of Mirror Lake Trailhead
- Construction of a retaining wall to reduce impacts to existing trail from highway widening work
- Extending the westbound passing lanes for a total of about 1,400 feet
- Installing overhead curve-ahead warning signs
Camp Creek to Government Camp Accident Statistics
An independent team of traffic safety, emergency response and highway professionals performed a Road Safety Audit along the seven-mile stretch of U.S. 26 between Camp Creek and Government Camp.
The audit found:
- 301 crashes occurred
- Four people died
- 243 people were injured
- 29 people were seriously injured
Kiwanis Camp Road to East of Mirror Lake Trailhead Statistics
After implementing many of the solutions recommended in the audit for the roadway just east of Rhododendron, ODOT is now designing solutions to address the safety concerns from half a mile east of Kiwanis Camp Road, through the curves, to east of the Mirror Lake trailhead.
Along this 2.3-mile stretch:
- 109 crashes occurred
- 31 were cross-over crashes
- 4 people died
- 88 people were injured
Planned Changes Kiwanis Camp Road to East of Mirror Lake Trailhead
A median barrier is proposed between the eastbound and westbound lanes in this section to prevent head on crashes.
Extension of Downhill Passing Lanes
ODOT plans to extend the downhill passing lanes for a total of about 1,400 feet of a curvy section of roadway that has been difficult for drivers. This will provide drivers with more room and time to form a single lane of traffic.
To reduce severe cross-over crashes, a center barrier will span about 2.3 miles between east of Kiwanis Camp Road to east of the Mirror Lake trailhead. Cross-over crashes have the potential for serious injury and death.
Timeline for Completion of the Project
During construction, travelers can expect:
- Short-term highway and trail closures due to controlled rock-blasting
- Highway lane closures and shifted travel lanes
Because of the unique site conditions and limited construction season due to winter weather, construction is estimated to take at least three years.