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'It can be extremely scary.' Yamhill Co. residents fed up with sharp curve on local road

school bus.jpg
A school bus was forced off the road on Northeast Corral Creek Road Tuesday as a big rig drove by. (Photo: Brad Spring)

A particular curve on Northeast Corral Creek Road outside Newberg already has a notorious reputation among locals, but an incident involving a school bus this week was the last straw for some.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Newberg Public Schools says a school bus was approaching the curve at the same time as a big rig headed in the opposite direction. The district says the driver was forced off the road and the bus got stuck. The driver and the only student on board are OK, but the bus had to be pulled out.

“I felt really sorry for the driver. he was very stressed. there were kids still on the bus, and he was totally stuck,” said Christine Hull, who lives just up the road.

After the situation with the school bus, Hull says she contacted the county, but she says this curve has been a problem for years.

The curve is about two miles south from where Northeast Corral Creek Road runs into Highway 99W near Newberg. There are several twists and turns on the road, but some consider the near U-turn where Corral Creek meets Northeast Streeds Lane is the worst.

“It can be extremely scary. People don't stay on their own side of the road. If any large vehicle comes, they have to take both sides of the road,” said Hull.

KATU News spoke to several other residents off camera and they echoed the same concerns. They say if a long vehicle does not go wide enough on the turn, there is a good chance the back wheels will end up stuck in the ditch just feet off the road.

Hull and her daughter Kiernan say trucks, buses, and folks pulling trailers get stuck a handful of times every year at the curve. They have photos of several incidents involving semi-trucks that got stuck.

However, both Kiernan and Christine have had their own issues pulling their horse trailer around the curve too. Kiernan has been stuck once; Christine was stuck twice.

“The incline when you make the turn, our trailer is so long and the wheels are so far back, when you turn the incline the belly of the trailer gets stuck. I was all the way on the other side of the road, completely off the road lane trying to get it around. And it's so tight and the incline is so bad if the trailer just barely catches the road, it's done, your stopped,” said Kiernan, describing the time she got stuck in 2012.

She says the fire department had to come and cut the back door off her trailer to get the horses out before they could get the trailer out.

John Phelan, Yamhill County Public Works Director, says they have received three complaints in the past year about Northeast Corral Creek Road, including the incident involving the bus on Monday.

Phelan says the road can be difficult during snow and rain, but the county does the best it can to make sure it stays safe. He says they improve safety on roads when they can, but there are several roads in the county that also need repairs.

Each year, Phelan says his staff puts together a list of roads in the county to be considered for a Maintenance Improvement Project during the next year. He says Northeast Corral Creek Road is one of the roads on that list, but as of now it is preliminary and it must later be approved by the county commissioners before anything happens.

When asked what can be done to make the curve safer for locals, Kiernan and Christine Hull suggested putting up a mirror so drivers can see around the bend, putting up warning signs before drivers reach the curve, or changing the road.

“I would love it if they could cut out the road a little bit, make the road a little bit wider, make a culvert to make a little bit of a shoulder,” said Christine.

Phelan says they want to hear from community members. They can contact the public works department, or they can contact the Road Improvement Advisory Committee to share their concerns and suggestions.