For the fourth time since 2000 a driver was killed in an accident at the intersection of Wheatland Road and Brooklake Road just north of Keizer.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, Jeff Weathers’ vehicle crashed over the steep embankment on the west side of the T intersection. Local citizens have expressed concern over that junction for years. Some cite a lack of a strong barrier, such a guard rail, to keep drivers from overshooting Wheatland Road and crashing down the incline. Others cite the need for better signage.
Four deaths in 10 years at the same location is four too many. The public expects their governments to make public roads as safe as possible; Marion County’s public works deparmtnet needs to address this location.
At least the county needs to erect a guard rail on the west side of Wheatland Road at Brooklake Road along with a large yellow and black striped barrier. A guard rail itself won’t stop accidents there but it will stop cars from careening over the embankment.
Beside a guard rail the Marion County needs to update road signs on Brooklake Road approaching Wheatland Road. Currently there is a stop ahead sign but additional signage needs to be erected. A big road ends ahead sign will alert the most distracted driver to what’s ahead. The speed limit on the final half mile of the west end of Brooklake Road should also be lowed matched with reduced speed zone signs. The best solution is to erect a flashing yellow light for all three directions.
In an interview, Cynthia Schmitt, a transportation engineer for the county, said that ‘rumble’ strips have been contemplated but they cause some motorists to drive around them; and the noise of tires going over the strips is annoying to residents in the immediate vicinity. Rumble strips are effective whether is a row of Bots Dots in the road (easy to see but also easy to drive around) or deep slits in the pavement that can have the same result.
There have four fatalities at that intersection, but how many other close calls have there been? We’ll never know. It doesn’t matter, the county should assure that its streets and roads are safe for the people who drive on them. We can’t legislate how people drive but we can certainly make roads safer for everyone who uses them.
There is no higher calling for a government than to assure public safety. Marion County needs to take that task to heart and fix the intersection of Wheatland and Brooklake Roads as soon as possible.