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Highway 6 To Oregon Coast Gets New Signage After Fatalities Soar

Published 02/03/22 at 5:36 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Highway 6 To Oregon Coast Gets New Signage After Fatalities Rise

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(Tillamook, Oregon) – A troubled route to the Oregon coast is getting some new highway safety signs. After a run of tragic traffic fatalities, OR 6 between Banks and Tillamook is adding more safeguards.

Otherwise known as Highway 6 or the Wilson River Highway, this stretch has been the scene of numerous incidents in recent years, thus causing ODOT to look for more ways to improve safety along this 49-mile stretch of the Oregon Coat Range. The number of fatalities and crashes has grown considerably, especially since the beginning of the pandemic.

Added to the highway are new 45 mph advisory speed signs and signs designating dangerous curves, especially those with poor visibility where there are school bus stops nearby. New speed signage is found at milepost 36 and a bumpy section of OR 6. ODOT also added signs posting the CB channel used by school bus operators, a way for truckers to better connect with those buses and be aware of their location.

In 2021, seven people lost their lives on this highway, ODOT said, the last one occurring on Halloween. That is the same total of deaths during the entire five-year period between 2016 and 2020. All were due to lane changes, ODOT said.

“We all must recognize OR 6 is not a high speed facility and adjust our driving habits accordingly,” said ODOT regional manager Sonny Chickering. “This is a rural, mountainous road with narrow sections and low speed curves that traverse several major and active slide areas. Because the route is key to the economy of Tillamook and nearby coastal communities, there are many large trucks and recreational vehicles using the highway. We've all got to be more careful.”

Much of this road through the Oregon Coast Range and edges of the Willamette Valley is only two lanes. OR 6 passes through the historic Tillamook Burn lands, the Tillamook State Forest, over twists, turns and steep grades. During the year it sees all manner of weather, including ice, snow, heavy rain and landslides.

“It carries tourists, semis and logging trucks,” ODOT said in a press release. “And sometimes a nearby elk herd wanders by.”

The changes and additions came after various discussions with local residents, road users, and business owners. ODOT crews recently installed the new warnings.

ODOT regional traffic safety officer Nicole Charlson says you can improve safety by taking these simple steps:

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