‘Diverging diamond’ proposed for Aurora I-5 interchange

Marion County

Agency says current interchange is over capacity and has "significant safety issues"

I-5: Aurora-Donald Interchange proposed design (Oregon Department of Transportation)

AURORA, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Department of Transportation is planning to reconstruct the I-5 interchange at Aurora-Donald and will present its preferred design at an open house Wednesday night.

According to ODOT, about 32,000 vehicles use the interchange at exit 278 every day. There are a couple of busy truck stops there, as well as an RV park. ODOT said the interchange was built about 60 years ago and has been “over capacity at peak times for many years.” That’s leading to “significant safety issues,” according to the transportation department.

To solve those problems, ODOT is considering a concept called a diverging diamond. Basically, traffic on Ehlen Road would briefly switch sides as it goes under I-5 (so it might feel like you’re driving on the wrong side of the road). The upside, hypothetically, is that you aren’t turning left in front of oncoming traffic to get onto the freeway.

ODOT used the design for the new I-5 exit in Fern Valley and made this dashcam video demonstrating how it works.

Anyone interested in learning more or giving ODOT feedback can stop by an open house from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at North Marion High School Commons.

The project has been allocated $28.3 million, most of that coming from the Keep Oregon Moving transportation funding package, HB 2017, according to ODOT. Construction isn’t scheduled to start until 2022.

Based on ODOT’s design, Ehlen Road would shift and expand slightly, primarily onto nearby farm land. ODOT said it does not foresee any issues getting that land.

Coincidentally, ODOT is working on another big safety project just down the road at Hwy 551 and Ehlen Road. Construction on that project is supposed to start in 2020 and will add left turn lanes on Ehlen Road approaching the highway in both directions. ODOT said it would be finished before construction starts on the interchange project.

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