Dangerous Salem-area intersections: Residents asked for feedback to create safety plan

·5 min read
ODOT data has determined that the intersection of Liberty Street NE and Center Street NE is the most dangerous and has seen the most traffic crashes on Thursday, March 30, 2023 in Salem, Ore.
ODOT data has determined that the intersection of Liberty Street NE and Center Street NE is the most dangerous and has seen the most traffic crashes on Thursday, March 30, 2023 in Salem, Ore.

More than 600 people have weighed in on dangerous intersections, roundabouts and other streets they say are in need of changes in the Salem-Keizer area as a regional planning board develops a safety plan for walking, using wheelchairs and other mobility devices, biking and driving.

The Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study is examining crash data compiled by the Oregon Department of Transportation, analyzing safety issues and getting feedback from the community. The study will help guide investments in regional roads over the next few years.

A virtual open house is being held to get public input in the area’s roads and sidewalks. Comments on traffic concerns in the area are being accepted through Monday at bit.ly/mtsap-ooh1.

The fourth-most dangerous intersection in the Salem area, according to ODOT data is Lancaster Drive NE at Market Street NE .
The fourth-most dangerous intersection in the Salem area, according to ODOT data is Lancaster Drive NE at Market Street NE .

A spokesperson said more than 600 comments had been received.

The Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments wants to have the plan, called the Metropolitan Transportation Safety Action Plan, adopted by spring 2024 as considerations are made for distributing federal funds to improve everything from sidewalks and bike facilities, pedestrian safety crossings, buses and transit shelters, and intersection upgrades.

Number of serious injury and fatal crashes double in a decade

Of the at least 3,200 traffic crashes a year in the Salem-Keizer area from 2015 to 2019, 18 resulted in fatalities and another 105 resulted in serious injuries, according to data from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Of those, 150 involved a bicyclist or pedestrian, with six fatalities and 12 serious injuries.

In 25% of the serious injury crashes, it was determined drivers did not yield. The next highest reasons for serious crashes is careless drivers (12%), followed by disregarding traffic control devices and improper driving maneuver (10%).

The number of fatal and serious injury crashes in the area between 2015 and 2019 doubled from 10 years before, according to a MWVCOG presentation.

The number of crashes in 2019 (3,605) dropped to 2,660 in 2020 as people drove less during the COVID-19 pandemic. There also were fewer serious injury accidents in 2020, 96 compared to 110 a year prior.

ODOT has not released data for 2021 and 2022.

Where are the most dangerous intersections?

According to ODOT traffic data, the top five most dangerous intersections in the area are:

1. Liberty Street NE at Center Street NE (100).

2. Commercial Street NE at Marion Street NE (90).

3. Lancaster Drive NE at Sunnyview Road NE (70).

4. Lancaster Drive NE at Market Street NE (65).

Tie for 5. Kuebler Boulevard SE at Commercial Street SE and Lancaster Drive NE at Silverton Road NE (58).

25 intersections in the Salem area with the most crashes

Why are there so many crashes at Liberty Street NE and Center Street NE?

The Liberty/Center intersection combines heavy traffic for people driving north with people coming off the Center Street Bridge.

Combined with heavy pedestrian traffic in the area, it's a dangerous place.

There were no public comments as of Thursday on the interactive map about the intersection that ODOT data ranks as the most dangerous with 100 crashes from 2015 through 2019.

3 of top 6 most dangerous intersections are on Lancaster Avenue

Three of the top six most dangerous intersections are along Lancaster Avenue, according to ODOT statistics.

The most dangerous was the intersection with Sunnyview Road NE, where 70 crashes occurred from 2015-19, followed by Market Street NE with 65 crashes and Silverton Road NE with 58 crashes.

Some of the people commenting about Lancaster Avenue said:

“Lancaster does have bike lanes, but due to the high speed of traffic having unprotected bike lanes is just as unsafe as not having them. It’s scary to bike on Lancaster and many bikers have been hit by cars. There needs to be more accountability taken to making this city safe for cyclists.”

“Lancaster is a nightmare no matter what form of transportation you’re using.”

What people are saying about other dangerous intersections

Commercial Street and Fairview Avenue:

“There is too much happening at this intersection and it’s harrowing. Drivers turning left from Fairview to go south on Commercial face oncoming traffic from drivers exiting Alice & going south on Commercial. The lane markings are confusing, drivers never seem to know who has the right-of-way, and it’s too close to the Y intersection where Liberty splits off from Commercial, so some people are trying to turn left against oncoming traffic and immediately get into the right lane.”

Lancaster Drive NE at Market Street NE:

“Every morning when I drop my daughter off at school, I see at least one (usually more) driver running a red light at this intersection.”

Liberty Street NE and Pine Street NE:

“Vehicles travel FAST here and often run the red light. Same issue with sunlight east-westward during spring/summer. I have almost been struck here multiple times despite reflective protective gear.”

River Road NE and Chemawa Road N:

“All day and night people run red lights through this intersection. Almost every time I am waiting at this light someone runs a red.”

Edgewater Street NW and Patterson Street NW:

“Turning left or right onto Edgewater is hazardous because the parked cars obscure all of the oncoming traffic/bikes.”

People also are commenting about roundabouts

Chemawa Road NE and Verda Lane NE roundabout:

“Drivers are not using turn signals to indicate intentions in roundabout. Drivers exceeding speed limits going through roundabout.”

Another user responded: “No turn signals needed. It is one way.”

27th Avenue SE roundabout near Costco:

“A clear car-brain design that prioritizes moving vehicles to private big-box enterprises, and shunts bicycles onto a sidewalk and then zig-zags through the roundabout hoping that the speeding cars will actually yield. Hell was designed by this commercial developer.”

How to comment

People can participate in the survey by going to bit.ly/mtsap-ooh1.

Comments can be left in English or Spanish.

Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments is entering people who comment into a drawing for 10 people to win a $25 VISA gift card.

Bill Poehler covers Marion County for the Statesman Journal. Contact him at bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: The most dangerous intersections in Salem survey lead to safety plan