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Victim’s daughter: Banner intersection upgrades should have happened sooner

The Oklahoma Department of Trans-portation will improve safety at the dangerous intersection of State Highway 66 and Banner Road, officials said Monday.
First, it will install a four-way stop within the next 45 to 60 days.
Later, it will place a traffic signal at the intersection between Yukon and El Reno.
Typically, installing a new traffic signal takes at least two years, ODOT Chief Engineer Brian Taylor said.
The action doesn’t satisfy Candy Schwarz, the daughter of Ray Davis, the Yukon businessman whose motorcycle crashed into a semi-truck that failed to stop at two-way stop as it entered the intersection from Banner Road on Nov. 24.
“Something should have been done years ago,” said Schwarz, who has been campaigning in the media and on social media for improving the intersection’s safety.
ODOT officials agreed to the improvements at a meeting on Dec. 3 with Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader.
The meeting had been scheduled before the accident that killed Davis, Taylor said.
Schwarz said that she doesn’t believe the meeting had been scheduled before the accident.
“Both Marc Hader and Brian Taylor are trying cover for themselves and doing damage control,” she said.“Neither or them have contacted me or sent me a card. It’s disrespectful and inhumane.”
ODOT, which had been considering the traffic signal for some time, moved up its installation because the county volunteered to pay 30% of the cost, which is more than the required 20%, Taylor said.
“Requests for traffic signals are competitive, and Canadian County’s willingness to go above and beyond what’s required helped elevate its position,” Taylor said.
Traffic signals in such locations typically cost from $250,000 to $300,000, Taylor said.
The time from the decision to place one to the actual installation is prolonged because of engineering work and because making the custom-built supporting poles takes six months, he said.
Before the recent fatality, three fatalities occurred at the site from 1998 – one in 1999 and two in 2003, an ODOT analysis found.
Schwarz noted that a television station found that 25 non-fatal accidents occurred in the past year.
Along with making the stop four-way, ODOT will install rumble strips approaching it.
“You’ll feel a shake in your car and noise, and you’ll see warning lights,” ODOT’s Taylor said.
ODOT is studying whether reducing the speed before the intersection is warranted.
The sections of SH-66 around the intersection has few homes and businesses, reducing drivers’ vigilance of traffic crossing the road, he said.
“People become complacent,” he said.
The four-way stop will provide a transition to the future installation of the traffic light – allowing drivers to become accustomed to slowing in the area, Taylor said.
“There will be less of a learning curve when the signal goes in,” he said.
He offered his condolences to the Davis family, but he noted that the driver of the semi, Donald Biffle, 26, bore responsibility for not stopping.
Hader agreed.
“Traffic safety comes down to citizens taking responsibility for their actions,” he said.

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