To get to homes in Crook County’s Juniper Canyon, there’s only one way in or out. County officials and residents have been worried for years that the single access road could be a safety problem in the event of a wildfire or other emergency.

Creating a second access road needs to be a priority for the Oregon Department of Transportation and for county officials. The safety of the 4,000-plus people who live in the area demands it.

Discussions have gone on for years. Nothing has really changed.

People wanting in or out of Juniper Canyon have to take Juniper Canyon Road off of the Paulina Highway. Many homes line the network of roads on either side of Juniper Canyon.

The solution county officials and ODOT have discussed recently — as reported in the Central Oregonian — is pretty much the same one as discussed in 2006. A road could be built to connect the Crooked River Highway with Davis Loop in Juniper Canyon.

County Commissioner Jerry Brummer tried to get some movement on the project a dozen years ago. He seems to be having more success now. ODOT is apparently going to do the design work that will make it easier to give the project a dollar amount. Then the county can start making the push to raise the money to complete the project from grants and state money.

In the past the idea was that the road would be an emergency route that was not generally open to the public. The idea is now to build a regular road.

Oregon has many competing transportation needs. State lawmakers need to ensure access to Juniper Canyon doesn’t get ignored for another dozen years.

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