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ODOT spotlight still shining on 47 and Verboort

Improvements continue to a dangerous intersection between Forest Grove and Banks in the wake of a crash there that killed two Pacific University freshmen last month.

Last Tuesday, May 20, the Oregon Department of Transportation installed transverse rumble strips along Highway 47 to alert drivers to slow down as they approach the intersection with Southwest Verboort/Purdin roads, where Kiden Dilla and Ayan Osman died April 7 and Kaylee Tawzer died seven years ago.

The noise produced by the rumble strips will also help alert drivers who are waiting at the stop signs on Verboort or Purdin that vehicles are approaching on Highway 47. Dilla inexplicably pulled in front of a box truck while turning left onto 47 from Verboort Road.

A few weeks after the accident, ODOT lowered the highway's speed limit near the intersection from 50 to 45 miles per hour. It has also put up "Headlights on for Safety" signs on Highway 47.

More importantly for the long term, the Oregon Transportation Commission recently approved $750,000 for preliminary engineering to build a roundabout at that intersection and has added the project to its State Transportation Improvement Program list.

"The region and agency is committed to starting construction on this project as soon as we can," said ODOT Region Manager Sonny Chickering.

The amount and source of funding to construct the roundabout and purchase right-of-way is still uncertain and will depend somewhat on the design that emerges through preliminary engineering.

ODOT traffic experts reviewed the intersection and concluded a roundabout is the best way to decrease fatal or serious-injury accidents there, primarily because roundabouts lower traffic speeds, move in only one direction and remove the need for opposing paths of traffic to cross each other.

Meanwhile, ODOT is also considering setting up a temporary roundabout or installing a warning light on Highway 47 to warn drivers of cross traffic waiting to enter the highway.

ODOT officials will meet with Pacific University staff at 10 a.m. June 4 to discuss a possible driver-safety campaign on the campus.



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