Turn left but not for long

Hanging a left in Oak Harbor will be a lot harder to do when a Department of Transportation project slated for this spring is finished.

In order to reduce the number of accidents that happen during left turns, many of those turn opportunities on State Route 20 through Oak Harbor will be eliminated.

The DOT will soon advertise for bids on a project to install curbs to block left turns and add some raised islands to further deter cars from turning left.

Darrell Whyte, the DOT’s operations supervisor for special projects in this area, said there are 28 driveways along the highway in Oak Harbor’s city limits, from roughly the Albertsons grocery store driveway to SW Sixth Avenue. When construction work is completed, it will not be possible to turn left into or out of 25 of those driveways.

The three remaining legal left turns will be: The soutbound left into Burger King and 7-11, the northbound left into Wendy’s, and the northbound left into Rite-Aide.

The aim is simply to reduce traffic accidents in the area. “It meets the criteria for high accident locations,” explained Whyte. Over the last eight years, DOT employees tallied 146 individual left turn accidents that occurred on SR 20 through Oak Harbor.

Mike Swires, another DOT employee involved with the project, said advertising for bids will be conducted in February.

Construction will begin this spring and take about a month, mostly involving adding curbing to block turn lanes.

Swires said there have been two public meetings on the subject and flyers were distributed to affected businesses.

Also, he mentioned the project in a talk to the chamber of commerce last month. “No questions came up,” he said. “I was kind of surprised.”

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