Highway safety zones get extra patrols

Grant will fund additional shifts for state troopers

By Stacey Barchenger Statesman Journal
March 30, 2009
By Stacey Barchenger Statesman Journal March 30, 2009

The Mid-Valley's most dangerous highways will get extra state police patrols in the coming months thanks to a recently awarded state grant that will pay for the overtime.

An approximately 11-mile stretch of Highway 99E between Salem and Woodburn will be patrolled an additional 95 hours, said Steve Vitolo, law enforcement judicial program manager for Oregon Department of Transportation. An equal amount of overtime will be spent patrolling the 18-mile safety corridor on Highway 18 near Spirit Mountain Casino, officials said.
ODOT will pay for the additional troopers and costs of added shifts, Vitolo said.
Oregon State Police Lt. Eric Judah, who leads the Salem command office, said the Highway 99E hours likely will be used in the busy summer months and in the evenings, when traffic is heavy.
The stretch of highway that leads from Salem has a long list of injury and fatal crashes and a much higher average than other similar-use roadways, factors that led to its 2002 designation as a safety corridor.
In June 2007, on-duty Marion County sheriff's Deputy Kelly James Fredinburg, 33, was killed on the highway near Gervais when an oncoming car crossed the center line and hit his patrol car head on. The driver of the oncoming car was injured, and a 19-year-old passenger was killed.
Judah said he hopes the increased effort to stop speeders and other violators during times of heavy traffic will affect drivers' behaviors outside the safety zones.