Thu February 16, 2012, 8:07 pm
About three years ago, I attended a networking group breakfast my accountant invited me to. He introduced me around. I knew some folks in the crowd making sure to smile to new faces. We chatted and sipped coffee cheerfully getting to know one another.
I introduced myself to a cheerful attractive woman in her 40s. She was new to town and asked me about recreational options her and her kids…two daughters, I think. I suggested Government Camp because of its proximity to easier slopes. “Nice to meet, good bye.”
A few months later I returned to my coffee friends. The mood had changed. What’s up?
Later my accountant called me. “Did you hear?” “Hear what?” I asked. “That gal died. She was killed after her car crossed the centerline and slid into an oncoming truck.” I was stunned….
That event, and others since, and before have led me to realize the danger of mountain highways and the arteries leading to them. In fact, Oregon Highway 26 from Sandy to Highway 35 is among the most dangerous in Oregon in terms of traffic accidents and fatalities. Over 69 died on the 32-mile stretch of road between 1990 and 2007, including at least 13 people in 2003. Almost all fatalities involved head-on impact. The scenic, yet treacherous, roadway was made a Safety Corridor in 1996. Ten years later, the corridor was extended east to the Confederated Warm Springs Reservation border at milepost 66.
Annually, about 393,000 visitMt. Hood Meadows;430,000 visit Ski Bowl and 265,000 visits Timberline. With those numbers, some serious winter traffic crashes may be unavoidable…but still very real and tragic.