Page 1

A Mail Tribune Advertising Department publication






Fern Valley construction


White City safety project


Oregon traffic deaths



Siskiyou Rail Line repairs

Merlin I-5 Exit 61

September 25, 2015

BUSINESS RESOURCE FAIR OCT. 17 The 13th Annual Rogue Valley Business Resource Fair provides free information in the forms of industry and trade seminars, consultations, and other key resources for small business owners and those considering an entrepreneurial venture.

Business and government agencies, including the Office of Minority, Women, and Emerging Small Business and ODOT, will staff booths in Exhibitors Hall.

The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 17 at the RCC / SOU Higher Education Center, 101 Bartlett Street in Medford. A light breakfast and lunch is provided.

“This event is an invaluable opportunity for Oregon business owners to tap private and public resources that can help their business be more successful,” said ODOT Civil Rights Field Coordinator Christie Meacham.

Admission is free. Pre-registration and same-day registration is available and you can register online.

More information about the Rogue Valley Business Resource Fair is available online at

RAISING RAIL CROSSING SAFETY AWARENESS The Rail & Public Transit Division is joining with Oregon’s Operation Lifesaver in an educational campaign aimed at improving safety at highwayrail grade crossings throughout the state. The partners received funds from the Federal Highway Administration and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. for the campaign and will promote the nonprofit group’s ongoing “See Tracks? Think Train!” public awareness campaign.

EDITORIAL DIRECTORS Jared Castle, (541) 957-3656 Gary Leaming, (541) 774-6388 ADVERTISING Dena DeRose, (541) 776-4439

Funds are being used to purchase brochures, which will be distributed at Oregon DMV offices, ports of entry, and other locations. ODOT’s Motor Carrier Division will reach out to professional truck drivers and offer the brochures and visor cards with the message. Funds will also be used to run radio and television public service announcements on Spanish language stations across the state.

CONTRIBUTORS Bret Jackson Publication Supervisor Steve Johnson Photography Brian Fitz-Gerald Illustration Sally Ridenour, Shelley Snow Editing

A special thank you to cover model Yolanda Gil as well as OSP Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Proulx, Medford Chief of Police Tim George, Central Point Chief of Police Kris Allison and Grants Pass Chief of Police Bill Landis for their help and support on our cover story.

September 25, 2015

This feature publication is produced separately from the Mail Tribune’s newspaper editorial department. All content is provided or approved by the Oregon Department of Transportation. ODOT is an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer committed to a diverse workforce. Accommodations will be provided to persons with disabilities. Alternate formats available upon request.

Reopening Siskiyou Rail Line By Brad Hicks Later this year, freight trains will again run through the Rogue Valley south to markets in California. The improved efficiency of transporting materials and products will, undoubtedly, provide a significant economic benefit to our regional economy.

Trains over the Siskiyou Pass stopped back in 2008. With the support of The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County and other private and public stakeholders in Oregon and California, a $7.1 million federal grant was secured for the rebuilding project.

September 25, 2015

Private industry added an additional $6.2 million for construction. While the Siskiyou Rail Line runs from Weed, Calif. to Eugene, the repair effort focused on a 65-mile section, installing new rails and ties as well as repairing 32 bridges and one tunnel. Reopening this section of the Siskiyou Rail Line will mean locally-produced goods in southern Oregon, such as lumber and other wood products, can be shipped via freight rail and connected with the Union Pacific in northern California to journey further toward national and world markets. The shipping time saved versus the trip north to Eugene helps our local manufacturers stay competitive. Additionally, reopening the rail line to California affords our major employers in Medford, Grants Pass and further north the flexibility to ship finished goods. For example, Combined Transport has a trans load facility at its property north of Central Point near Interstate 5 and Exit 35. The trans load facility was constructed with ConnectOregon grants along the Central Oregon and Pacific rail line to allow manufacturers the ability to transfer shipments by either truck or rail, providing an added economic advantage of getting products to market by different modes. Amy’s Kitchen is experimenting with more shipments via the trans load facility. The trucking industry is critically important to our region’s economy, but, even companies like Combined Transport recognizes that transporting goods by rail can be more efficient than by truck since one rail car carries the equivalent of 3.5 trucks worth of cargo. As trucking costs are projected to significantly increase, the added utility and cost savings of freight rail will open up more capacity on our roads and highways.

A safe and efficient transportation system has long been one of the key areas of interest for The Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. We see a good transportation system serving more than just the economic life blood of our economy. It’s also integral to making our valley more livable. Over the last decade and a half, more than a quarter billion dollars of transportation projects were built in the Rogue Valley. The Chamber continues to be an advocate for continued transportation investment and infrastructure in southern Oregon. The Siskiyou Rail Line rehabilitation project is one of the much-needed investments in addition to the Fern Valley Interchange project and the Oregon 62 Expressway project that ensures our region’s economic success. Brad Hicks, Certified Chamber Executive, currently serves as President and CEO of The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Oregon University and after service as a legislative assistant to three Oregon state legislators and one United States congressman, Hicks returned home to southern Oregon and in 1993 and began his career in chamber of commerce management. Hicks has devoted much of his career to transportation advocacy. He served on the Jackson County Airport Advisory Committee and as the chair of TRADCO for nearly a decade. Hicks was appointed by the Governor to the Transportation Governance Committee in 2014 and reappointed in 2015, which was created to prepare Oregon for a discussion about the need for increased transportation funding in our state.

September 25, 2015


construction bids open soon

Bids open soon for the first phase of construction on the new Siskiyou Safety Rest Area and Welcome Center, which will be constructed alongside the northbound I-5 lanes, approximately two miles south of each Ashland Exit 14.

“The Welcome Center, co-located with the rest area and operated by Travel Oregon, will be a local, regional and statewide economic generator,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson.

dollar spent operating a welcome center equals $41 in visitor spending.

The first phase of construction includes the facility’s roadways and ramps. Once a contractor is selected, work is expected to begin later this year or as soon as weather conditions are conducive for road construction.

The Siskiyou Safety Rest Area and Welcome Center will serve as a signature destination for northbound travelers, those just needing to stretch their legs and visitors looking to learn more about Oregon tourism. More than three million vehicles travel north on I-5 into Oregon each year. According to the Oregon Tourism Commission, each dollar spent operating a welcome center equals $41 in visitor spending.

The facility will house an outdoor kiosk, restrooms and an office for Oregon State Police troopers as they patrol south Jackson County and the Siskiyou Pass. Commercial trucks will not be allowed to use the facility. A restroom for those customers has already been built at the Ashland Port of Entry station, which is located between Ashland Exits 14 and 19. The project’s second phase will build two Cascadia-themed buildings. The Cascadia designs would add to the facility’s gateway look for visitors. The second phase of work is scheduled to bid in 2016. Replacement of the rest area involved a nearly two-decade effort after the previous facility, located on a sixpercent grade, was closed for safety concerns in 1997.

September 25, 2015

OREGON 140/62 INTERSECTION new signals, lighting, crosswalks Construction is wrapping up on a $1 million safety improvement project in White City that targets a location of frequent crashes involving rearend, turning and failure-to-yield movements. The location is at the intersection of two state highways, Oregon 140 and 62. Currently, both westbound and eastbound traffic on Oregon 140 has no dedicated left-turn lane. “This location has been on our safety list for years,” said ODOT District Manager Jerry Marmon. “We’ve had intersection crashes, even a pedestrian fatality, so we’re looking forward to making this key intersection safer.” The intersection of Oregon 140 and Oregon 62 is among the top 5 percent of crash locations in southwestern Oregon for the same type of highway. Thirty crashes were

reported at this location from January 2007 to January 2011. The safety improvement project adds new traffic signals, lighting and signalized pedestrian crosswalks to the intersection as well as new pavement and striping. The east approach on Oregon 140 will be widened for a dedicated left-turn lane, singlethrough lane and a right-turn lane. The west approach will be restriped for a dedicated left-turn lane and a shared through and right-turn lane. “When the project is completed, Oregon 140 will have a dedicated left turning phase, just like the Oregon 62 side of the intersection, so everyone will be able to drive through the intersection more safely than before,” said Marmon. Prime contractor Knife River of Central Point performed most of the

September 25, 2015

project under nighttime construction, which is typically allowed to avoid the heavier traffic volumes recorded during daylight hours. The project also includes building water quality detention areas just off the roadway to naturally treat water runoff.

“We construct these water quality detention ponds, or bio swales, to hold the water runoff from the pavement and allow any roadway sediments to settle in the ponds before it gets into the streams,� said Marmon.

September 25, 2015

BYBEE CORNER Searching for a safer solution

Bybee Corner, the local name for the intersection of Oregon 238 and West Main Street, continues to stymie ODOT engineers. Significant improvements to sight distance and road geometry were completed in 2005. Two years ago, the right-turn lane was lengthened for motorists travelling from Jacksonville, a concrete median was added to better separate the turning lane, and the location of stop bars was adjusted on West Main Street.

“Several crashes occurred when drivers turned in front of oncoming traffic from Jacksonville,” said ODOT Senior Traffic Safety Investigator Dan Roberts. “It’s easy to go out and quickly observe several close-calls.” Engineers are perplexed by the rising crash rate, which is happening in spite of the relatively good sight distance at the Bybee Corner intersection.

Roberts developed an online survey to gather input and experience from Tell us what you think the people who Prior to the Do you regularly travel on Oregon 238 regularly travel 2005 project, and use the Bybee Corner intersection? through the the Bybee ODOT wants to hear your experiences and Bybee Corner Corner intersection. intersection suggestions on how to improve safety. Survey was listed results will among the Use this survey link to share your experience: be considered top 5 percent before more in Oregon for adjustments to crash frequency the intersection are and severity on planned. the Safety Priority Index System (SPIS). Ae “We’d like to know first-hand expected, crash rates decreased what drivers are experiencing,” said following each safety improvement. Roberts. So, why is the crash rate rising again?

September 25, 2015

Failure to yield Franklin Corbin wants to see changes at the Bybee Corner intersection.

“They will pull out from West Main and, before you know it, someone will be on your bumper,” said Corbin.

The former Jacksonville resident was involved in a 2010 crash. As Corbin approached the intersection, a southbound driver, wanting to turn onto West Main Street, turned in front of him.

Previous projects The 2005 safety project resulted in the Bybee Corner intersection dropping off the top 5 percent SPIS list. Prior to construction of the 2013 project, a safety audit found westbound drivers turning onto West Main Street did not have enough time to discern oncoming driver intent. The resulting project was completed within state right of way for $150,000.

“There is some confusion on who has the right of way at that intersection,” said Corbin, who suffered from back and neck injuries and underwent two years of physical therapy. Corbin said the other driver told him, incorrectly, he thought he had the right of way. Corbin acknowledged the Bybee Corner intersection is better than before but said there are still a number of distractions and he’s concerned about speed, especially from vehicles traveling from Central Point.

“There is either something with driver behavior or the engineering of the intersection that is a problem,” said ODOT District Manager Jerry Marmon. “It’s frustrating for us because we want to make the intersection as safe as possible.”

September 25, 2015

OREGON 62 EXPRESSWAY First phase goes to bid this year

After a decade of developing plans, filing permits and completing right of way purchases, the first phase of the $120 million Oregon 62 Corridor project goes to bid this year with construction expected to begin in early 2016.

sidewalks and transit-related enhancements on the existing Oregon 62 corridor. The project will also build a four-lane access-controlled expressway that provides faster travel and improved safety within and through the region.

One of the largest individual transportation projects in southwest Oregon, the Oregon 62 Expressway project is a multimodal solution that will increase capacity and improve safety along the Crater Lake Highway corridor, a critical business connection for freight, tourism and commuters.

The project team finalized last-minute details for the Coker Butte crossing redesign and is still resolving a permit issue involving the Federal Aviation Administration and the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport.

Oregon 62 exceeds capacity standards. Future growth is expected to significantly increase traffic volumes, already some of the highest in southern Oregon and higher than those on Interstate 5 north of Medford. “Higher crash rates at corridor intersections, especially from I-5 to Delta Waters Road, are a safety concern,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. “Oregon 62 and Delta Waters Road is the busiest intersection in the entire southwest Oregon region.” The multimodal project will add

“The right of way process is always the critical path to the project package,” said Anderson. “We anticipate getting this project advertised for construction bidders and underway.” Signal prioritization “I see the expressway helping to alleviate congestion,” said RVTD General Manager Julie Brown. “But signal prioritization will help transit deliver services on time.” That signal prioritization will allow bus drivers, when they are running behind due to congestion, to change upcoming traffic signals to the green phase, thus putting them back on schedule and reducing time the bus sits in traffic. continued on page 22 September 25, 2015

OREGON TRAFFIC DEATHS CLIMBING The sad fact is Oregon traffic deaths are on the rise. Preliminary figures from the ODOT Crash Analysis & Reporting Unit indicate 288 people died in traffic crashes through the end of August. That figure includes pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle crashes. Traffic deaths are up more than 30 percent over the same period in 2014 and are on pace to exceed 400 traffic fatalities by the end of the year.

Traffic deaths had already increased 13 percent in 2014, following years of decline. Four decades of safety measures, new laws and improvements to vehicle design and emergency response are cited as key reasons why Oregon’s fatality rate has steadily declined from its peak in 1972 when 737 people were killed. So far this year, media attention on this issue is largely focused on assigning blame for the increase in traffic fatalities. The media asks: Is it lower gas prices? Is it population growth? Is it cellphone use? The answer isn’t that simple.

Crash reconstruction and police reports provide the best information available but impaired driving and distracted driving are under reported because, in many case, unless the driver admits to the behavior, the cause isn’t cited as a factor. With just three months left before the end of the year, the question Rogue Valley residents need to ask is: What can I do to reduce my risk of a traffic crash and fatality?

That’s the question we posed to four veteran law enforcement officers working in the Rogue Valley: Oregon State Police Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Proulx, Grants Pass Police Chief Bill Landis, Central Point Police Chief Kris Allison and Medford Police Chief Tim George. Collectively, these four have more than 90 years of law enforcement experience on Oregon roads. Their voices carry credence, drawn from years of first-hand experience responding to and preventing traffic crashes. They graciously shared some advice on pages 13 and 14 that can help you and your loved ones reduce the risk of being in a traffic crash.

September 25, 2015

Are you

Chief Kris Allison, City of Central Point

Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Proulx Oregon State Police

Central Point Police Chief Kris Allison identified the greatest challenge in Central Point — crashes involving distracted drivers and pedestrians.

With Oregon’s experiment with legal marijuana underway, Oregon State Police is prepared for more DUII situations involving a combination of alcohol and drugs.

“Pedestrians have a responsibility to pay attention,” said Allison. Pedestrian-related fatalities now account for more than 16 percent of Oregon’s traffic deaths. “Right or wrong, a pedestrian who gets hit will experience the more traumatic event in a crash.” Of course, drivers need to focus on the road and only the road. Allison said her officers see drivers distracted by more than just cellphones. “You would be surprised, people drive as they watch YouTube,” said Allison, who served 17 of her more than 20 years in law enforcement in Central Point. “People are so addicted to that stimulation they have the tablet running right next to them in the front seat. “A lot of the time, when you take your eyes off the road, you drive to where your eyes go.”

“One of our biggest problems is impaired driving — alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs or something else,” said OSP Sgt. First Class Jeff Proulx, who works at OSP Central Point Area Command and is approaching his 20th year of service. Proulx recommends you pull over and call 911 to report behaviors you suspect are impaired driving. Those tips help OSP locate drivers and find probable cause. “You have to be a more diligent, defensive driver than you were in the past,” said Proulx. “National statistics demonstrate one of every 10 drivers is impaired,” said Proulx. “If I stop, say, 15 vehicles, I can be pretty sure one driver shouldn’t be on the road.”

September 25, 2015

at risk?

Chief Tim George, City of Medford

Chief Bill Landis, City of Grants Pass When a driver sends or receives a text message, she takes her eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, she’s driving blind across a football field. “Smartphones are at the core of a lot of crashes,” said Grants Pass Police Chief Bill Landis. “You can simply pick up your phone and have a crash.” Landis, a 25-year veteran with the Grants Pass Police Department, said distracted driving is a factor more often than not. There are four types of driving distractions: Visual – looking at something other than the road; Auditory – hearing something not related to driving; Manual – moving your hands from the wheel; and Cognitive – thinking about something other than driving. “Not every investigation provides evidence needed to cite distracted driving as a contributing cause,” said Landis. “With newer model cars, sensors provide valuable information for crash reconstruction. With older vehicles, we’re left to old-fashioned reconstruction to determine cause.”

“Nowadays, everyone and their uncle drives with a cellphone in their hand,” said Medford Police Chief Tim George. “What’s the reason we’re seeing more crashes? I suspect distracted driving is number one.” Drawing from his personal experience, George recommends parents do their young drivers a big favor by making a steadfast rule: put the cellphone in the back seat when you drive. “As a parent, you have to be a risk manager,” said George. “For example, you can also reduce your child’s risk of a crash by making sure they are off the road during the DUII hours. That’s a dangerous time to drive for everyone.” The DUII hours, generally recognized as from midnight to 4 a.m., are as much a part of the law enforcement vernacular as amateur nights, law enforcement slang for events like New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, and St. Patrick’s Day, when officers see a sharp increase in impaired driving.

September 25, 2015

MERLIN I-5 EXIT 61 improving safety and operations

After a summer of flagging and roadwork construction, the people who travel through the Merlin interchange at Interstate 5 Exit 61 are seeing the light.

Poles for new traffic signals arrived from manufacturing facilities located along the East Coast earlier this month. Electricians are currently installing the wiring into the erected poles and mast arms.

A traffic light, specifically.

September 25, 2015

The $2.2 million project improves safety and operations to the rural interchange, specifically the I-5 off-ramp and local roadways connected to the interchange. JRT Construction LLC of Oakland, Oregon is the prime contractor. The project will end back-ups on the northbound off-ramp, which frequently extend back to the I-5 travel lanes, as well as provide needed safety improvements for the next 20 years of operation. “Merlin is still very much a rural interchange but the higher traffic volumes now warrant a traffic signal,” said ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk. “These safety improvements will reduce the frequency and length of backups on the northbound Exit 61 off-ramp.” Travelers are currently experiencing traffic delays and 24-hour flagging at the intersection of Merlin Exit 61 and Monument Drive as work focuses on the roadway and traffic signals. However, the single biggest inconvenience to drivers occurred during a week-long closure before the Memorial Day holiday. The closure was necessary to rebuild and widen the northbound off-ramp. One of the major goals was to get the most disruptive work out of the way before the busy summer tourist season. The Merlin interchange is the gateway to the lower Rogue River recreation areas. Those destinations

September 25, 2015

include Galice, Indian Mary Campground and the beginning of the Wild and Scenic portion of the Rogue River. An open house was held at Fleming Middle School to address concerns about the impact on summer tourism along the Rogue River. “With a few exceptions, folks were appreciative of the construction and the need for improvements to the interchange,” said Paselk. The Merlin interchange project website is HWY/REGION3/Pages/I-5-Exit-61. aspx.


final year of construction

A busy summer of highway construction, building new ramps, roadways and retaining walls, should result in people driving on much of the new Fern Valley Interchange by next spring. The $72 million project addresses traffic congestion in and around Interstate 5 Exit 24, the Phoenix interchange, especially severe during morning and evening commutes. Existing and proposed development along the east side of I-5 in Phoenix had reduced the capacity and created safety issues at the interchange. The project area includes I-5, Oregon 99 and Fern Valley Road. The project is scheduled for completion in September 2016. “The new interstate bridge will be open as well the north side ramps by next spring,” said Assistant Project Manager Eric Finney. “Traffic coming from or to Medford from Phoenix will be on the permanent ramps instead of temporary ones.” However, temporary ramps will still be in place on the south side of the new interchange, including the existing temporary southbound onramp and a new northbound off-ramp using either Pear Tree Lane or South Phoenix Road.

“Once we get new traffic on the bridge, the existing two-lane span will be demolished,” said Finney. Demolition is crucial for prime contractor Hamilton Construction of Springfield as it begins building the new northbound off-ramp and tying it into the new structure. Luman Road intersection There is a large difference in elevation between the newly finished concrete roadway being constructed east of the Fern Valley-Luman Road intersection and where traffic is currently moving. “The challenge will be to bridge the difference and still keep traffic moving and businesses accessible,” said Finney. Hamilton is presenting ODOT with a plan to gradually raise the elevation over the course of several nights of work, perhaps over a week, gradually raising the grade with rock before it’s paved. The interchange area will be constructed using concrete as the permanent roadway surface, which will last decades longer than asphalt, especially in the areas where there is a lot of stop-and-go traffic with heavy trucks.

September 25, 2015

Westside phases Paving and curb work is underway west of the Bear Creek Bridge on the south side of Fern Valley Road, near the recently developed commercial triangle. Traffic is running on the recently completed north section. Once Fern Valley Road is complete, Hamilton is expected to move to the east side of Oregon 99 and then onto Bolz Road. “The west side of Oregon 99 may not take place until next summer when the project is in the final stretch and final paving is scheduled,” said Finney. Business driveways will be marked with cones and blue ‘Business Access’ signs. When complete, Oregon 99 will feature new turn lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks and traffic signals. “This work will be the most challenging construction phase for the

September 25, 2015

city of Phoenix and local businesses,” said Finney. “The work is right in the core of Phoenix, alongside businesses and the Oregon 99 corridor.” Diverging Diamond interchange The Fern Valley Interchange features Oregon’s first Diverging Diamond design that reduces ODOT’s right of way needs for construction. “The Diverging Diamond design provides more traffic capacity,” said Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “To enter I-5 or cross over it, drivers will move to the opposite side of the bridge, which reduces the number of signal phases a driver needs to clear.” The Missouri Department of Transportation was the first public agency in the United States to construct an interchange with the crossing diamond design.

September 25, 2015

continued from page 12 According to Brown, the biggest advantage of the upcoming expressway for transit riders will be a Bus Rapid Transit route from a Park-and-Ride in the White City area to an unspecified location in or near downtown Medford. “Being able to bring in pedestrians, provide better access through sidewalks, create the possibilities of Park-and-Rides for commuters, and add signal priority will help us get back on schedule,” said Brown. Brown also chairs the statewide Public Transit Advisory Committee. Oregon 62 Expressway The 4.5-mile expressway will start with three lanes of eastbound traffic at Poplar and Bullock Roads near Fred Meyer. Through traffic will turn left on a small directional interchange located across from Whittle Road. Traffic will then travel along a four-lane expressway on the east side of the Medford Airport, span over Vilas Road, and connect to the existing Crater Lake Highway near Corey Road. Traffic

destined for commercial centers such as Costco, Lowe’s and Safeway will continue as is done today. For westbound traffic, three lanes of traffic will extend through the PoplarBullock intersection to the north jughandle to Biddle Road. The most challenging segment during the first construction phase will be located where traffic already runs heavy, between Poplar Drive and Delta Waters Road. ODOT plans to take advantage of a wide section of its own right of way on the south side of the highway section. “Project staging is crucial to keep traffic moving and business access open,” said ODOT Project Manager Tim Fletcher. “We expect much of the first phase work will be completed away from traffic.” When it is on the heavily-traveled corridor between Poplar and Delta Waters Road, it will either be at night or behind solid barrier or both to limit impacts to traffic.

continued from page 26 Shippers Coalition, the organization at the forefront of bringing together industry, CORP, and local, state, and federal government representatives to pursue the TIGER grant program. “These rail line improvements help give local companies a competitive edge, protecting jobs and enhancing industrial growth in northern California and southern Oregon,” said Ragon. TIGER grant The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, invests in road, rail, transit and port

projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Each project is multimodal, multijurisdictional or otherwise challenging to fund through existing programs. Applications were evaluated through a competitive process by technical and professional experts at the DOT, and project benefits were analyzed to ensure that limited funds were spent most effectively. The TIGER programs use rigorous, multimodal selection criteria and the results of economic analysis to select projects and track the effectiveness of TIGER investments through focused project-specific performance measurement plans.

September 25, 2015

ROGUE VALLEY COMMUTER LINE celebrates first anniversary The Rogue Valley Commuter Line, a commuter transit service launched a year ago this month, has garnered a warm reception from riders along every stop in the Rogue Valley.

Grants Pass to the Rogue Valley Transportation (RVTD) in Medford. Transfers can be made to each system, for free, with a valid transfer good for 60 minutes.

“The support we are receiving has been nothing but positive,” said Josephine County Transit Program Manager Scott Chancey. “We still receive phone calls daily from new riders asking about the service.”

Chancey said information is collected on passenger boardings per stop location, but the service does not have general demographic information. A passenger survey is scheduled for next month, which will answer many of those questions, including who is riding and why.

The RVCL links the Josephine Community Transit system in September 25, 2015

“We’ve heard some interesting stories from passengers and drivers,” said Chancey.

It was designed as “broadly as possible, to

meet the needs of the most people and still be usable or functional as a transit service.

the most people and still be usable or functional as a transit service.”

The Middle Rogue Metropolitan He cited an example Planning of a student who is Organization funded attending Southern the demonstration Oregon University in — Josephine County Transit Program project for three Ashland and lives in Manager Scott Chancey years using federal Cave Junction. The Congestion student pays $2 to Mitigation and Air get into Grants Pass, Quality program funds, which provide then $2 to ride the RVCL to Medford. From Medford, she transfers for free to a flexible funding source to state and the RVTD system and rides to Ashland. local governments for transportation projects and programs to help meet For the return trip, the process is the the requirements of the Clean Air Act. same with a transfer in Grants Pass back to Cave Junction. The total round Clearly, the RVCL expanded Rogue trip cost is $8. Valley residents’ access to areas they weren’t able to reach before. Average There have also been many stories regarding families reconnecting across daily ridership is 62 boardings per day. According to Chancey, the RVCL has a the Rogue Valley that haven’t had 100 boarding per day target. much contact for years. The physical barrier of distance is a substantial “Things are still growing and the obstacle to overcome for those potential is there,” said Chancey. without transportation or the financial means to travel.

“Those are stories I didn’t quite expect to hear or anticipate when starting the RVCL service,” Chancey said. “There are also many veterans traveling out to White City for services that they would never be able to reach without the RVCL. The commuter transit service has opened many doors and opportunities for individuals that previously were unavailable.” Chancey said one of the more interesting stories was a gentleman traveling from Medford to Gold Hill. He was extremely excited to be able to go fishing somewhere he hadn’t been to in years. He called the office twice to make sure he understood the route and times. “That was one trip scenario that was never anticipated,” said Chancey. “The service wasn’t designed for one particular type of passenger or trip scenario. It was designed as broadly as possible, to meet the needs of


The weekday service provides five trips per day for $2 per boarding; children 6 and under ride free. Free transfers can be made to the JCT and RVTD routes with a valid RVCL transfer ticket within one hour of deboarding. For more information, call the JCT office at 541-474-5452, ext. 2. RVCL departs Grants Pass at Anne Basker Auditorium, 500 N.W. Sixth St., for Medford — 6:35 a.m., 7:35 a.m., 11:05 a.m., 3:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. RVCL departs Medford at the Rogue Valley Transit Front Street Station, 200 S. Front St., for Grants Pass — 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 4:25 p.m. and 5:25 p.m. September 25, 2015


November reopening

Major repairs to the Siskiyou Rail Line are on schedule so that the line is expected to reopen by midNovember. Freight service on the historic line, which first opened in December 1887 and runs 95 miles from Ashland to Weed, stopped in 2008. The Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization project is repairing and revitalizing a 65-mile section of the 296-mile stretch of the short line railroad, including rail, tunnels, ties and bridges as well as upgrading its freight capacity to handle the 286,000-pound industry standard for rail cars. Currently, timber companies and other southern Oregon manufacturers must ship by freight rail north to Eugene to meet the Union Pacific line into the Southwest. In 2012, a $7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic

Recovery (TIGER) grant was awarded to the Oregon Department of Transportation and California’s Siskiyou County for the Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization project. Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) provided a 25 percent match. Additional funding came from Douglas and Jackson counties. Don Seil is the project development general manager for the Genessee Wyoming Railroad Pacific Region, the parent company of CORP, which is based in Salem. “Opening the line will provide major opportunities for southern Oregon and northern California shippers,” said Seil. “The basic plan is five-daya-week service between Weed and Medford. So, if you live in Ashland, you’ll see two trains a day, one in each direction.” Seil said each train will be loaded to 12 to 14 cars in length.

“If you moved here after 2008, it will be a new experience,” said Seil. Repair work started last spring. So far, crews replaced 42,000 new ties, some dating back to the late 1940s as well as 50,000 linear feet of new rail. Each section of rail comes in 1,600 foot lengths, transported by work train. More than 20 trestles were rehabilitated with new timbers and walkways. Tunnel 14, located south of Ashland, was in such bad shape that some of its 175 timber supports were collapsing. Tunnel repairs included spraying the walls with shotcrete and adding new rail, ties and ballast, the rock foundation for the rails. “The tunnel was really in bad shape,” said CORP Construction Inspector Rich Pedula, on the project. “There were a lot of drainage and mud problems. It was well worth the repair.” Rehabilitation of the Siskiyou Rail Line entailed more than construction work.

“Anytime a line has been shut down for several years, there are items that need to be accomplished, such as removing weeds and trees that have grown up near the tracks, crossings that aren’t working properly and an accumulation of debris that’s fallen near the tracks,” said Seil. ConnectOregon IV A second, smaller project funded through the ConnectOregon IV program is improving the clearances of tunnels and other rail infrastructure between Douglas and Jackson counties. The $5.7 million project, which received a $4.5 million ConnectOregon IV grant, will open access to the Rogue Valley with modern, high-capacity rail car equipment. “The project will allow taller, highcapacity boxcars to be used on the Siskiyou Line,” said Bob Ragon, spokesman for Coos-Siskiyou continued on page 22 September 25, 2015

Moving Ahead - Fall 2015  

Traffic Deaths up 33%

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