Stanfield residents pushing to make a dangerous crossroads safer got what they wanted. Umatilla County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 at their meeting Wednesday morning in Pendleton to change the intersection of Feedville and Edwards roads into a four-way stop.
Heidi Carver and Angie Connell of Stanfield said they would be watching to make sure the county made good on its word.
Carver’s husband, Dustin Scott, suffered serious injuries in a crash at the intersection in September 2016 when another driver blew through the stop sign at South Edwards. The crash also seriously injured a passenger in that car and killed its driver. And the crash there in early November seriously injured two teenage girls.
“I just feel if that intersection was a four-way stop,” Carver told the board, “you would decease drastically the number of accidents that are there.”
County Public Works Director Tom Fellows said the traffic at the intersection is “relatively low,” with about 1,200 vehicles using it a day. He explained the county operates under the federal “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices,” which sets standards for traffic signs and the like, and the two stops there now exceed the standard for the road’s traffic.
Speeding, however, is a problem though the intersection. Fellows said the county a few years ago found 16 percent of drivers go too fast to stop there. He also presented options to improve road safety, including adding beacons to warn drivers to slow down and stop. Adding signs to make the stop a four-way was the cheapest option at about $1,000 total.
County Emergency Manager Tom Fellows told the board whatever option is worth the cost when they consider lives are at stake.
Commissioner Larry Givens, Bill Elfering and George Murdock agreed the site was dangerous and approved the additional stop signs. The board also told staff to research and make a recommendation on what lighting will improve sign visibility.
Fellows at the end of the discussion said the county does not stock stop signs and would have to order them.
In other business, the board approved ambulance service area franchise agreements for Pendleton, the Hermiston/Umatilla area, Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston, and the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The franchises are for five years. The board also approved a year-to-year franchise for the Mill Creek area because the service provider may not be able to provide coverage for five years.
The board also adopted the updated ambulance service area plan. Roberts said the Oregon Health Authority praised the county for the thoroughness of its plan, which required some changes to languages to be consistent with state requirements, such as noting first responders are “licensed now as an emergency medical responder.”
But he said he took exception to the health authority’s finding that Athena and Weston don’t have adequate ambulance coverage. He said reorganization addressed that issue, and he would notify the state.
The sheriff’s office also received upgrades to its vehicle fleet with the board’s approval of three 2018 Ford Police Utility Interceptors for $32,300 each from the dealership in Gresham along with a utility task vehicle for $32,878 from Morrow County Grain Growers. The county’s fleet management plan covers the cost of the Interceptors, and grant funds pay for the 2018 Polaris XP 1000 Crew HVAC, which enhances search and rescue operations, especially in heavy snow or on tough terrain, and can transport injured people.
The county’s veteran services also received the OK to buy three new 2018 Ford Fusions for $17,900 each from Tom Denchel Ford Country, Hermiston.
And in one more vehicle move, the board approved donating an old decontamination trailer to the Northwest Incident Management Team 6. The trailer is from the days of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program and is deteriorating on county land. Staff said the incident team can put the triple-axle fifth wheel to real use for fighting fires.