A 16-year-old Redmond girl was killed last Friday after crossing onto oncoming traffic south of Redmond. The crash, which involved four vehicles and a total of seven people, once again has people in the area wondering what can be done to make Highway 97 safer.
The crash happened near Tomahawk Ave. five miles south of Redmond.
In addition to the teen who was killed, four of the people involved in the crash were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
After this tragedy, many took to social media to question the safety of the stretch of US 97 between Redmond and Bend.
Central Oregon Daily News reached out to the Oregon Department of Transportation to see what it has done and what it plans to do to improve safety for those traveling that portion of the highway.
Following a 2015 study, the safety improvements implemented include:
- Deceleration lanes at Quarry Avenue and 61st Street from US97 southbound
- Acceleration lane from 61st Street to US97 southbound to provide greater merge distance
- Rock outcropping removal near the edge of the roadway for improved visibility
- Median barrier installation south of the Tumalo Road Interchange, and a turn around from US97 southbound to northbound
- Reflective pavement markers added for improved lane separation
The accident occurred north of Tumalo Road, where the median is not present.
David House, a spokesperson for ODOT, says that while medians do not prevent serious crashes, it can lessen them.
“What a median does is it gives further separation to oncoming traffic, so a little more space and essentially that leaves a little room for error if you veer off and have a lane departure situation, then a head on collision is less likely,” said House. “Now, it doesn’t prevent all collisions. It doesn’t prevent all crashes, but it helps improve the odds.”
The next phase of safety improvements will begin in the next funding cycle during 2024-2027, according to ODOT.
A median for the upper portion of the Redmond-Bend corridor of US 97 will be included in the next phase.