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MailTribune.com
  • Blackwell Rd. curve changed for safety

  • Whose decision was it to straighten out the big curve at the top of Blackwell Road between Central Point and Gold Hill? And for what reason?
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  • Whose decision was it to straighten out the big curve at the top of Blackwell Road between Central Point and Gold Hill? And for what reason?
    I love back roads with character. It will be like a freeway up there with the curve straightened out.
    — CMG
    Jackson County decided, CMG, and county officials cite motorist safety as the main reason for taking the curves out of that stretch of blacktop.
    County Roads and Parks Director John Vial said Blackwell Road is part of Old Oregon Highway 99, the original north-south route for traveling through the western part of Oregon. It was originally built for Model T's and other vehicle models that traveled much slower than modern traffic.
    Longtime residents used to refer to the curve you're talking about as Dead Man's Corner. In just a three-year period between 2003 and 2005, the corner saw seven crashes, three of which resulted in serious injuries, and one resulted in a death.
    "The corner had a very poor accident history over time," Vial said.
    The county submitted an application for federal funds, which passed through the Oregon Department of Transportation to the county in 2006. The $560,000 project is actually still being worked on.
    "Everything should be completed in the next couple weeks," Vial said.
    So while we share your romantic outlook about scenic, country back roads, CMG, safety trumps scenery, especially on a road that's already had a checkered past.
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