Warrenton - Traffic lights suspended on huge metal mast arms over U.S. Highway 101 at Marlin Avenue in Warrenton won't be turned on for a few more weeks.

Target date for the new traffic signal to be operational is Oct. 6, Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Knoll said Thusrday. But Knoll said ongoing wet weather could push that date back even further from the Sept. 29 turn-on date ODOT originally predicted.

The massive $1.8 million improvement project, which began in February, is designed to improve safety at the Marlin Avenue intersection, which has been the scene of many accidents over the years. In addition to the traffic signal and realignment of Marlin Avenue, the project added left-turn lanes on Marlin Avenue and sidewalks on both sides, from Southeast Sixth Avenue to Southeast 10th Avenue.

Some striping and three more days of paving remain to be done, Knoll said, including a two-inch layer of asphalt on Marlin Avenue south of the highway, and two layers on Marlin Avenue north of the highway. Once that work is finished, traffic can be switched over to the new section of Marlin Avenue that has been created on the North Coast Fred Meyer side of the original roadway. The old Marlin Avenue will serve as a frontage road connection for businesses. If all goes as planned, the switch will happen on Sept. 22, Knoll said.

Electricians still need to install junction boxes and get the lights wired, Knoll said, and paving loops must be embedded in the pavement to trigger the signal to change in response to traffic. The Marlin Avenue light will be coordinated with lights at Harbor Drive and Neptune Avenue, so that a motorist traveling at the 45 mph speed limit on that stretch of highway won't encounter a red light at every intersection.

As soon as the new traffic light is working, ODOT will begin work on another part of the project, a barrier called a pork chop island that will be constructed at the next intersection, where Highway 105 meets U.S. Highway 101.

"This is a high accident location," said ODOT Area Manager Carole Richardson, "mainly for drivers going across the highway and turning left."

The island will prevent motorists from turning left onto 101, toward Seaside. Instead, they will need to turn right and drive to Marlin Avenue, where they can make a left turn with the help of the new traffic light. However, the island is designed to allow emergency vehicles to turn in either direction, Richardson said.

In the future, a similar pork chop island will be constructed on the other side of U.S. Highway 101, she said, as part of Warrenton's long range plan.

- Sandra Swain

Red Light, Green Light is an occasional Daily Astorian feature designed to update readers on a project or issue in the community that made headlines in prior months. By an odd coincidence, the most recent couple of items have been about traffic lights!

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