Moving Ahead - Winter 2014

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continued from page 6 Facility plans generally culminate in a determination of what needs to be done to address an identified problem based on established policy direction and standards. Project planning is carried out in accordance with NEPA and is known within ODOT as the project development process. The facility plan provides ODOT and local agencies and other stakeholders with a priority list of specific improvements. Recommended improvements will likely include a focus on capacity, safety, and changes to the local road network. Some solutions might be a combination of them all. “Any future project for the Medford viaduct would also need to balance environmental issues with Bear Creek, park land and expensive right of way costs,” said Cortes. “When you start talking about replacement, project costs start at hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cortes said. “It is imperative that we look at improvements at a lower range of costs that optimize public dollars.”

December 12, 2014

However, the scale of major project concepts, such as a full replacement of the Medford viaduct, or the addition of another deck next to I-5, far exceeds the level of transportation funding expected through year 2020. ODOT in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) prepares environmental documentation for each transportation project that receives federal-aid funding or federal approval from FHWA as required by NEPA. Unlike the facility plan, which develops a 20-year vision for the structure and the community, the environmental study goes much deeper, addressing the challenges presented by 52 years of residential and commercial growth around the Medford viaduct. “The Medford viaduct was originally constructed in 1962,” said Cortes. “Medford looked a lot different back then.”