Two more crashes on Highway 217 flyover, more drivers file complaints

Two more crashes on Highway 217 flyover, more drivers file complaints »Play Video
This still image from an ODOT camera shows emergency responders arriving on the Highway 217 flyover Friday morning, June 27, 2014. No one was seriously injured.

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Two more cars have crashed on the flyover from Interstate 5 to Highway 217. 

ODOT continues to investigate what role the road may be playing in these wrecks as more drivers are filing claims with the state for damages.

The most recent wreck happened Friday during the morning commute. There were no serious injuries although emergency responders did show up.

The other known wreck this week happened on Wednesday evening after rush hour. Desmond Dunbar and his girlfriend were driving up the ramp after it had rained.

“Right after the sign indicating the speed-limit, which we always watch, I think I was going 37 miles per hour, and it just right out from the back swung away from me … just launched me straight around; we did a full 360. It was terrifying,” Dunbar said.

He plans to file a tort claim against the state, hoping the state will pay his $500 insurance deductible. His car has significant front-end damage.

When Dunbar files his claim, it will be at least the eighth claim the state has received. On Friday the state told KATU News seven other drivers have already filed claims, up from five drivers a week ago. 

ODOT reported six crashes on the flyover over two days back in early May. That prompted ODOT to start investigating if the road was a factor in the crashes.

"It should have been fixed long ago. Probably about six years ago a friend of mine laid his motorcycle down in the same spot,” Dunbar said.

KATU’s “On Your Side Investigators" dug up ODOT documents that show the state has known about the problem for a decade. A metal bridge joint is out of place by an inch, but ODOT isn’t convinced that's the real problem.

“You catch air there just slightly and once you lose traction or any other factors fall in to place, you're done,” said Dunbar.

ODOT documents from 12 years ago also show the ramp was built on swamp-like land that the state filled in. It's trying to figure out a fix to get the joint to stay in place. Until it does, ODOT wants drivers to slow down.

"I think drivers in a sense have a responsibility to slow down. You should obey the speed limit. But we obey the speed limit and it still causes accidents,” Dunbar said.

Research from Portland State University shows cars drive an average of 60 mph up the ramp. ODOT wants to remind drivers to obey the suggested 35 mph speed limit there. A spokesman said with the right conditions, water on the road mixing with oil from cars, that joint, like any part of the road, can get slick.