County to adopt 199 corridor plan

On May 17, the Josephine County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to advanced an ordinance to adopt the US 199 Corridor Plan into the county’s Transportation System Plan, or TSP, to a second reading in June.
JoCo Public Works Director Rob Brandes and Deputy Community Development Director James Black joined the board for their May 17 weekly business session at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass to summarize the ordinance.
“This proposal went to the Rural Planning Commission Monday, April 10, 2023,” Black said. The Planning Commission heard public testimony and heard presentations from ODOT and Public Works. At the conclusion of that meeting, they approved this amendment.”
For those that need a refresher, the US 199 Corridor Plan has been in the works over the past few years to concoct safety improvements for Highway 199, also known as Redwood Hwy, which is among the state of Oregon’s most dangerous and deadly roads.
At an ODOT meeting last year, it was diagnosed that the road is so dangerous because it was not designed for small communities, such as Kerby and Selma, to be built up around it. Many of Redwood Hwy’s most serious collisions occur near the entrance to and exits of these towns, because drivers are unaware they are entering a more congested area and do not adjust their speeds accordingly.
Therefore, the US 199 Corridor Plan suggests introducing factors that would make it clear to drivers that a town is coming up, where safer driving is required – welcome signs, roundabouts, painted medians, walking paths, etc.
“This is about an 18-month project that ODOT led,” Brandes explained. “They had a consultant on board. It involved setting the existing conditions – so traffic counts, wrecks, fatalities and then looking at the specific zones that are of concern, site specific areas, turn lanes, those kinds of things. They produced seven technical manusla. I believe it was dealing with each of these various areas. Technical memos were reviewed by the entire group which involved a lot of local road officials plus members from those communities would be in the areas of study down there compiled into the plan.”
Brandes continued that in addition to giving “ODOT kind of a road map to work down to try to pick off projects to improve 199 safety,” having it folded into the Transportation System Plan will make Josephine County more competitive for statewide infrastructure grants that may help fund the recommended projects to take the beast that is Redwood Hwy.
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger wanted to clarify that having this plan “does not guarantee that all of this is going to get done,” which Brandes confirmed: “That is an expensive road to fix all the ills for sure.”
A second reading of this ordinance will be held today at the board’s May 31 Anne G. Basker Auditorium – set weekly business session, where adoption is anticipated.