Stoplight in the Heights

Citizen-driven project becomes reality with Monday ceremony

At Eliot and Brookside streets in the Heights, the arching light poles are up and crews painted crosswalk lines — in the rain — Wednesday as last-minute preparations were completed on the long-awaited intersection safety upgrade.

On Monday at 1:30 p.m. Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Manager Kay Van Sickel will join Hood River City and County officials, contributors and citizens to mark the dedication of a $237,000 traffic signal on 12th Street (Highway 281) at its intersection with Brookside and Eliot.

In May 2000, Hood River residents Viola Briggs and Lynn Rasmussen died after being hit by motorists in separate accidents at the pedestrian crosswalk on 12th Street near the Hood River Shopping Center. Since those accidents, ODOT lowered the speed limit from 35 to 25 miles per hour in the area and hung large “Pedestrian Crossing” signs above the crosswalk “the largest signs legally allowable.

Lynn Rasmussen’s relative, Dollie Rasmussen, spearheaded a grass-roots effort that raised more than $50,000 to install this signal. Hood River County contributed $50,000 and the Oregon Transportation Investment Act funded the remainder. (Over seven years, OTIA will provide $500 million for transportation improvements statewide, using bonds financed by increased vehicle-title and other fees.)

The traffic light on Highway 281 at Brookside and Eliot Streets is expected to become operational by this weekend — after traffic engineers inspect and approve the contractor’s completed work. The signal will begin operation as soon as the inspection and approval process is finished. The exact time of the signal “turn-on” is not known.

In addition, next summer ODOT will install another traffic signal on 12th at Pacific — at the other end of the shopping center. The $220,000 project will be completed in early fall 2003.

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