Local business reacts to new signs on Highway 199

One of the new signs in Grants Pass. (Carsyn/News 10)

Following a summer filled with vehicle crashes, Oregon Department of Transportation has installed three signs warning drivers along Highway 199. The sign reads: "4 Fatal Crashes Drive Safely."

Grant Stutzman's family has owned Farmers Building Supply in Grants Pass for three generations. The business is located on the corner of Highway 199 and Dowell Road. They said crashes happen all the time.

"It's a really sad thing to see, it's fairly tragic, but apparently they have to post it. We've had people actually plow through our fence here, striking the corner. There have been a number of accidents right outside our property," said Stutzman.

ODOT said the highest number of crashes, nearly 85 between 2008 to 2017, were recorded between miles 28 and 29, where the highway runs through Cave Junction. Many of the crashes are the result of improper lane changes, or when an impatient driver tried to pass.

Farmers Building Supply said it's the people, not the highway, that are dangerous.

"There's really no reason that it shouldn't be safe. It's when people become impatient when they aren't paying attention. Weather has an effect, but it's when people lose their cool that they become unsafe drivers," said Stutzman.

ODOT said Milepost 15 is one of the most accident prone spots on the highway.

Farmers Building Supply said it all comes down to people slowing down and taking curves at an acceptable speed. They think more patrol on the highway could save a lot of lives.

"Until those stretches between Grants Pass and Selma are better handled and better managed, people are just going to continue to fly through there, and it's going to take it's toll."

The Josephine County Sheriff's Office said it doesn't have the staffing to patrol the entire highway. It relies on Oregon State Police to help monitor the area.

OSP said troopers can't always respond to calls on Highway 199, when they also have to respond to calls in the county.

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