Moving Ahead - Summer 2014

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ON OUR COVER Summertime is vacation time, road trips, baseball games, barbecues, fun in the sun, and, yes, construction time. The Rogue Valley’s largest state highway project is under construction in Phoenix, where prime contractor Hamilton Construction will build Oregon’s first Diverging Diamond interchange at Interstate 5 exit 24.

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U.S. 199 Bridge Replacement New Applegate River Bridge on schedule to open in a few weeks

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Federal Transportation Funding Local governments face major cuts if drought hits Highway Trust Fund

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Work Zone Safety Fern Valley Interchange project taps toolbox of devices, techniques

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Oregon 99 Corridor Plan Enhancing transportation safety and capacity over the next 20 years

EDITORIAL DIRECTORS Jared Castle, (541)957-3656 jared.b.castle@odot.state.or.us

CONTRIBUTORS Bret Jackson Publication Supervisor

Gary Leaming, (541)774-6388 gary.w.leaming@odot.state.or.us

Steve Johnson Photography

ADVERTISING Dena DeRose, (541)776-4439 dderose@mailtribune.com

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Brian Fitz-Gerald Illustration Jared Castle, Gary Leaming Writing Sally Ridenour, Shelley Snow Editing

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.


Summer 2014 Oregon Road Projects Map Summer means construction season, and work will soon be in full swing throughout the state. Many projects are either scheduled or under way on Oregon highways this year. To help you know where road work is happening, the Oregon Department of Transportation produced a summer construction map that shows project locations. The map provides information about individual projects with their anticipated delays and also offers safety tips for driving through work zones. The map is available at ODOT offices, DMV offices, truck stops and many travel information centers. You can also view the map online at www. oregon.gov/ODOT. Remember to use TripCheck.com or call 511 before your trip to check routes, work zones and road and weather conditions — know before you go!

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BARRIER AND BRIDGE WORK AT GLENDALE, SUNNY VALLEY

Drivers will encounter work zones along a nine-mile stretch of Interstate 5, from Glendale (exit 80) to Sunny Valley (exit 71), as prime contractor Knife River Corporation focuses on bridge and barrier improvements along the corridor. ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk said the I-5: Glendale to Hugo Paving and Sexton Climbing Lane project is expected to wrap up at summer’s end. “Knife River has to complete the bridges – membrane and paving work –- at Glendale and Sunny Valley this summer, along with some barrier and

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erosion control,” said Paselk. “After punch list items and change orders to address drainage concerns exposed by spring rains, it’s pretty much a wrap.” Spring downpours caused water to sheet across travel lanes. The drainage issues will be addressed before the contractor finishes work on the $28 million improvement project. Paselk expects the final work to be completed once the weather is consistently warm. Most of the work was complete during the first year of the project.

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Last summer, the most visible work — excavation and rock blasting to construct a new, northbound Sexton Mountain truck climbing lane — wrapped up, allowing Knife River Corporation to transition into paving and striping work and making safety improvements along the project’s 17-mile stretch of I-5 from Hugo north to Glendale. The project’s safety improvements included adjusting the southbound curves located south of Smith Hill. The new 12-foot climbing lane for commercial trucks, notorious for a slow climb over Sexton Mountain, extends 2.8 miles from the northbound on-ramp at the Hugo (exit 66) interchange and ends just beyond the crest of the Sexton Mountain pass. The climbing lane was partially built on the former shoulder, which was replaced with a new, 10foot shoulder built to the right of the truck climbing lane. ROCK BLASTING Last summer, ODOT used rolling slowdowns to keep traffic moving during the blasting stage. Pilot vehicles slowed I-5 traffic to roughly

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30 miles an hour from both Glendale and Rogue River. I-5 on-ramps in the project area were also temporarily closed during the rolling slowdowns. “The rolling slowdowns gave Knife River about 20 minutes to blast and clean up any rock that blew onto the highway,” Paselk said. Climbing lane construction required closing the I-5 emergency shoulder and placing concrete barriers to separate traffic from construction work. According to Paselk, an estimated 250,000 cubic yards of soil and rock were moved to clear room for the new northbound truck climbing lane. Knife River transferred the material to three locations along I-5 — the Merlin interchange, the Hugo interchange and slightly north of the Hugo interchange along Old Highway 99. “There was enough material to fill nearly 14,000 18-yard dump trucks,” Paselk said. “Most importantly, these fill locations reduced the hauling cost and, by extension, reduced the overall project cost.”

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STEEP CLIMBS Motorists encounter many of the steepest grades on the interstate highway system in southern Oregon. I-5 shoulders, designed to provide a safe refuge for disabled vehicles, are sometimes used by commercial trucks to navigate southern Oregon’s mountain passes. Trucks using the shoulder cause significant damage that requires frequent repair. While most freeway climbs are built on grades of 5 percent or less, the northbound I-5 lanes on Sexton Mountain present a 6.13 percent grade. Trucks frequently slow to less than 30 mph during the climb. The speed difference relative to other traffic can be hazardous. When one truck attempts to pass another slow-moving vehicle, both lanes are blocked, forcing traffic to brake or change lanes to avoid a collision. Some trucks drove along the shoulder but this left no room for disabled vehicles.

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ODOT expects the new climbing lane will reduce the frequency of I-5 closures related to commercial trucks, especially during winter driving conditions. The new climbing lane is built to today’s engineering standards, thereby reducing the need for ongoing shoulder maintenance. MORE TRUCK CLIMBING LANES Over the past couple of years, ODOT added three short climbing lanes, each roughly one-mile long, on I-5 in Douglas County. The truck climbing lanes are located southbound at Rice Hill (milepost 147) and one in each direction on ‘Gumby Hill’ (milepost 137), the steep grade located between Sutherlin (exit 136) and Oakland (exits 138 and 140). Truck climbing lanes are also located further north on I-5, where a threemile section exists south of Salem, and on Interstate 84, which has a sevenmile section east of Pendleton.

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New Applegate River Bridge SET TO OPEN IN A FEW WEEKS

Right on schedule, U.S. 199 motorists can expect to transition from a temporary structure to the new Applegate River Bridge within the next few weeks.

concrete pours. The detour structure kept traffic moving during demolition of the 58-year-old bridge and construction of its replacement.

The $5.9 million bridge replacement project, headed by prime contractor Carter and Company of Salem, is scheduled for completion this fall. The Applegate River Bridge is located eight miles west of Grants Pass on the Redwood Highway.

“The roadway approaches to the bridge are nearly finished and the contractor is working on the rail,” said ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk. “When that’s done, we’ll get traffic back on the original alignment. I’m sure folks traveling to the coast and Cave Junction will welcome that.”

The contractor maintained a steady pace over the winter, tying steel to the concrete beams and working on

Once U.S. 199 traffic switches onto the new bridge, Carter and Company will begin the task of removing the

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detour structure, which is located to the north of the new bridge. Demolition of the temporary bridge will occur from mid-June to midSeptember, when work is allowed in the stream bed. “The remainder of the work should go fairly quickly once the new bridge opens to traffic and Carter and Company begins dismantling the temporary bridge,” said Paselk. “Once we hit the in-water work period in mid-June, the rest of the temporary structure can be pulled out of the Applegate River bed.” The temporary bridge was constructed in summer 2013. Vital Connection When the existing bridge was built in 1955, about 2,000 vehicles crossed the 547-foot span daily. By 2011, the number of vehicles had increased to 10,300 per day. The

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old bridge’s narrow 30-foot roadway and bridge rails did not meet today’s safety standards, which enforced the need for a replacement project. “The Applegate River Bridge is a vital connection between Interstate 5, the Illinois Valley, northern California and the Oregon coast,” said Paselk. “This project ensures that transportation resource will continue to serve for generations to come.” Construction on the new Applegate River Bridge began in spring 2013. Motorists had to contend with traffic delays as fill materials were trucked in and compacted for the temporary bridge approaches and supports. Traffic shifted over to the temporary structure in August 2013. Nearly 50 feet wide, the Applegate River Bridge replacement project uses pre-stressed concrete beams. The new bridge will feature two 12-foot travel lanes as well as two 10-foot shoulders.

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“The new bridge railings will meet today’s safety standards and, unlike the old structure that had six supports in the river channel, the new bridge will only have two,” said ODOT Lead Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs.

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According to Grubbs, the new bridge will also be slightly wider on the west end to accommodate a new turn lane at Riverbanks Road.

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TRANSPORTATION FUNDING FACES SUMMER DROUGHT By David Lohman A strong multimodal transportation system is vital to a vibrant economy — good jobs, a clean environment, safe communities, a good quality of life and healthy people.

the Trust Fund have lagged behind even conservative projections of transportation investment needs. The Trust Fund has run a significant deficit since 2008. To avoid debilitating cuts to programs that pay for roads, transit, and safety projects, Congress has provided short-term fixes by multiple transfers of general fund money, totaling about $55 billion into the Trust Fund.

Federal transportation funding plays a major role in preserving and improving Oregon’s transportation system. Each year, ODOT and local governments receive over half a billion dollars in federal highway, transit, and The federal Highway Trust Fund safety funding. This money is used to is projected to run out of money fix bridges, repave highways, rebuild interchanges, address safety problems, sometime this summer. Surface transportation and help transit funding will agencies buy drop by about buses and provide David Lohman was appointed 30 percent essential service to the Oregon Transportation unless Congress that reduces Commission in 2008. He comes up with congestion. These served as director of the Port of additional investments pay Portland’s Policy and Planning resources to pay dividends for years Department from 1992 to 2003 for transportation to come, getting and was the port’s delegate to projects. workers to their Metro’s Joint Policy Committee jobs and helping on Transportation. He served The implications Oregon firms get for Oregon are on the Bi-State Transportation products from our significant. The farms, forests and Committee and on the first state’s own high-tech factories Interstate 5 Bridge Task Force. He Highway Fund to market. served as deputy director of the resources are Oregon Economic Development pretty much fully The federal Department from 1987 to 1991. dedicated to debt government pays service, highway for its share of maintenance, transportation and operations. Federal highway investment with user fees on drivers. The cost of each gallon of gas includes funds are the only source of money for new construction projects that a federal gas tax of 18.3 cents which improve and preserve the state gets deposited in the federal Highway transportation system. If Congress Trust Fund. For the average driver, does not provide additional resources that adds up to about $100 a year. for the Highway Trust Fund, Oregon’s The historic federal partnership with federal transportation funding would the states for maintaining a strong be cut by over $150 million per year. transportation system has frayed ODOT and its advisory committees in recent years. The federal gas tax — including the Rogue Valley Area hasn’t been raised since 1993, back Commission on Transportation — when gas cost a little over a dollar a just finished an arduous process gallon and before inflation eroded of selecting a few high priority the purchasing power of the tax. As projects for the 2015-2018 Statewide a result, the user fees flowing into June 6, 2014

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ODOT and its advisory committees — including the Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation — just finished an arduous process of selecting a few high priority projects for the 2015-2018, Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) from among many worthy applications. If the new federal funding is not made available, that project list would have to be revised, and a large number of road, bridge, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian projects would have to be cancelled or delayed. Local governments would be hard hit, as they receive 25-30 percent of Oregon’s federal highway funding, and impacts to transit could be severe. Cuts to transit programs could run more than 40 percent, which could force transit agencies to make deep service cuts and cause significant hardship for those who rely on public transit. Developing a transportation project from an idea to a finished project takes years. Knowing how much money will be available to pay for the project when it goes to construction years in the future is critical to the project design and initial planning work that begins in Year One. Without knowing whether federal funding will be available at current

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levels in the future, ODOT will have to take a conservative approach to its construction program — to avoid promising more projects than it can actually deliver. ODOT is already developing contingency plans to delay putting projects out to bid next year if Congress doesn’t take action. And the long-term situation is even more challenging, because it’s hard to plan for projects six or more years out when thelevel of funding to be available six months from now is an unknown. That’s why the Oregon Transportation Commission recently decided to hold off on starting to select projects for the next Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. Instead of moving forward now on a STIP that selects projects for 2019 and 2020, we’re going to wait a year to see if action (or inaction) by Congress provides more clarity on federal funding and gives us a better idea how many projects ODOT will be able to deliver. Most of the issues Congress has to deal with are hard, and coming up with meaningful new resources for transportation will be among the hardest because it requires a major boost in general taxes or user taxes. But without meaningful action by Congress, Oregon will see a significant loss of investment in its roads and transit, and our economy and communities will pay a high price. June 6, 2014


Summertime is construction time Fern Valley Interchange project transitions to bridge building

Coming off the first major phase of construction — trenching and installing a four-foot drainage pipe across Interstate 5 — the Fern Valley Interchange project transitions into summer mode. “Summertime is construction time,” said ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. “We’re going to make it as easy as we can for drivers.”

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The $72 million Fern Valley Interchange project will improve Phoenix’s I-5 interchange, where traffic congestion is severe during the morning and evening commutes. Existing and proposed development along the east side of I-5 in Phoenix has reduced the capacity and created safety issues at the interchange.

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continued from page 13 Prime contractor Hamilton Construction of Springfield will build the first Diverging Diamond interchange in Oregon. The Missouri Department of Transportation built the first interchange with this new design in 2009. Diverging Diamond design The new interchange will be built just north of the existing bridge, leaving most roadways west of the interchange relatively untouched. The Diverging Diamond interchange design has a narrow footprint, which helps avoid touching most businesses during and after the interchange project. The crossing diamond design also helps keep traffic congestion to a minimum while Reducing increasing safety.

work zone crashes. Studies show that driver inattention is the biggest factor in work zone crashes.” TripCheck cameras will capture Phoenix traffic New TripCheck cameras installed help keep an eye on traffic in the project’s work zone. “Adding TripCheck cameras to the Fern Valley Interchange project helps people navigate the area, especially during the phases when we expect significant congestion,” said Leaming.

The TripCheck cameras were installed on the sign bridge that spans northbound I-5 about one mile north of the Phoenix interchange. congestion More cameras are during construction being installed east is quite a trick and west of the I-5 interchange. in such a tightly-

“The Diverging Diamond design provides a higher developed commercial “The public made capacity to move and residential it clear they found traffic while the cameras an reducing right of interchange area. invaluable resource way needs,” said — ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever during the open Steers. “Drivers will trench work across move to the opposite I-5,” said Steers. “We side of the road to enter I-5 used the cameras during the or to cross it. This movement reduces the number of signal phases a South Medford Interchange project and received nothing but positive driver needs to clear.” feedback from drivers. Work zone safety “The new TripCheck cameras around I-5 drivers are benefitting from many I-5 exit 24 will provide drivers with the safety features in the Fern Valley timely information they need to avoid Interchange project work zone. congestion during construction.” Beyond the ubiquitous cones and barrels, the project employs TripCheck Construction work on traffic cameras, the Rogue Valley’s tap this summer first Incident Response vehicle, and The Fern Valley Interchange project’s transverse rumble strips that will be size and complexity requires more built into the temporary southbound than two full construction seasons off-ramp to notify drivers of the to complete the job. The project shorter deceleration distance before also realigns North Phoenix Road reaching the signalized intersection. between Peterbuilt Motors Co. and Home Depot. The project, which “We also lowered the I-5 speed limit encompasses I-5, Oregon 99 and to 50 mph because of the narrowed Fern Valley Road, is scheduled for travel lanes,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “All completion in September 2016. of these tools are designed to reduce

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Most of the recent work — largescale earth moving and blasting to build the new North Phoenix Road alignment — has kept the east side of the interchange busy.

Excavation work is already underway around the exit 24 northbound onramp. New retaining wall panels will be built, helping with construction of the new North Phoenix Road Bridge.

Over the summer, the contractor will transition into bridge building, spanning both I-5 and Bear Creek.

Temporary southbound on- and offramps will keep Phoenix connected to the I-5 corridor. The staging also will

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open a large area for Hamilton Construction to construct the entire project in a more efficient approach that reduces traffic impacts. Construction is also underway on the new Bear Creek Bridge, which will replace the 68-year old structure that is currently load limited. Temporary construction office ODOT opened a temporary construction office within ‘The Shoppes at Exit 24’ shopping mall last February. The office serves as a base of operations for the project inspectors, although the public is welcome to stop by the office for more information. ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers can be reached directly at 541-621-7034 or Dennis.Steers@ odot.state.or.us. Steers is pounding the pavement, meeting with property owners and the general public to keep them informed of the work ahead.

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“A major project goal is to keep construction impacts to a minimum,” said Steers. “We’re using traditional media, social media and other communication resources to reach out to commuters. We want to encourage them to use alternate routes and adjust their travel plans to avoid the busiest traffic periods of the day. “We will do our best to minimize the construction impacts, but there will be traffic impacts.” 3-D traffic simulation video online “How will drivers negotiate the new interchange design?” That’s a frequent question from local drivers and Phoenix residents, including stakeholders who have followed the project’s long development process. A 3-D traffic simulation completed in fall 2013 shows how the new crossing diamond interchange will operate.

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“There is nothing like people seeing it for themselves,” Leaming said. “The video makes it much easier to explain how the Fern Valley interchange will look when completed.” The 3-D traffic simulation video is featured online at the project website. “We learned through the project outreach for the South Medford Interchange project that a picture or, in this case, a video, is worth a thousand words,” Leaming said. “Once people see it, people will get it.” Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act helps fund project The project’s design phase began in 2004. The Fern Valley Through design alternative was eliminated in 2009 because it would have an adverse impact on nearby farm land. The project development team later unanimously supported the North Phoenix Through Build alternative as part of the federally-required environmental assessment.

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The project was fully funded thanks to a $25 million investment from the 2009 Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act (JTA), a funding package based in part on increases in truck weight-mile taxes, flat fees, registration fees, road use assessment fees, and heavy vehicle trip permit fees. Unlike previous Oregon transportation bills, the JTA dedicated most of the state’s share of revenue to specific projects. The bill listed 37 projects previously approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission that must be financed by bonds. Private contractors collaborate on approach The project team collaborated with several private contractors in 2012 to develop construction methods best suited for the challenges ahead of this project, such as the close proximity of the new bridge ramps to the existing ramps. Significant grade differences

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continued from page 19 are some of the challenges. For instance, the new roadway at the top of the southbound I-5 off-ramp is designed to rise nearly eight feet higher than the current level.

Aesthetics feature natural colors Aesthetic features inspired by the hills and grasses — the natural colors surrounding the Phoenix area — are in the final design.

One of the results of the collaborative meeting with contractors was a staged approach that sets aside a large area for unimpeded construction and builds temporary roadways and ramps, opening up the entire project area for heavy construction.

The utilization of concrete form liners and different stains and paints presents opportunities to design a bridge with a local look instead of the drab concrete structures common when I-5 was initially built.

“Reducing congestion during construction is quite a trick in such a tightly-developed commercial and residential interchange area,” said ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever.

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The project team filtered through several designs with the help of Medford landscape architect, John Galbraith, before selecting aesthetics for the Fern Valley Road bridges that span I-5 and Bear Creek at exit 24.

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Oregon 62 Expressway

Redesign focuses on Coker Butte undercrossing ODOT is embracing an opportunity to leverage private funds that will help connect industrial properties along the future Oregon 62 Expressway. The change requires a redesign to replace the crossing at Commerce Drive with one at Coker Butte. Earlier this year, Coker Butte-area property owners approached the ODOT project team with an alternative crossing idea that would better connect the properties located along the east side of the Medford Airport. While the Commerce Drive crossing provided the same access to the properties that exist today, it would have had marginal connections to several properties poised for industrial development. The property owners will donate right-of-way to reduce the cost of the design change, which is estimated to cost $1.8 million. “By constructing the minimum extension of Coker Butte that has direct, signalized access to Crater Lake Highway, it will open those industrial properties to future job opportunities in the Rogue Valley,” said ODOT Region Manager Frank Reading. “The goal is to build the best design we can for the money we have. And we’ll do that thanks to this partnership with the property owners, the city and the airport.” The design change requires a revision to the federally-required Environmental Impact Statement, which is expected to push the project bid date out to March 2015. Addressing safety The $120 million multimodal project will increase capacity and improve safety along the Oregon 62 corridor. The corridor is a critical business connection for freight, tourism and commuters. Unfortunately, the Crater Lake Highway exceeds capacity standards. Future growth is expected to significantly increase traffic volumes.

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“Higher crash rates at corridor intersections, especially from Interstate 5 to Delta Waters Road, are a safety concern,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “Oregon 62 and Delta Waters Road is the busiest intersection in the entire southwest Oregon region. The traffic counts are higher than those at I-5 north of Medford.” The multimodal project adds 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 throughout the region. 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. The first construction phase is slated to begin in 2015. According to ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever, 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 that highway section. “Project staging is crucial to keep traffic moving and business accesses open,” said Leever. “Much of the firstphase work will be completed at night or behind solid barrier to limit the impacts to traffic.” June 6, 2014


GREENWAY PROJECTS ENHANCE COMMUNITY LIVABILITY As construction winds down on the newest section of the Bear Creek Greenway, the next phase of the Rogue River Greenway breaks ground. The two greenways — a 50-mile safe, recreational corridor for bicycles and pedestrians — will eventually connect Jackson and Josephine Counties. KOGAP Enterprises of Medford began construction late in May on a one-mile section of the Rogue River Greenway located north of Gold Hill. The $906,000 addition will construct a concrete bridge across Sardine Creek and a new path to the north that travels under the historic Rock Point Bridge. The addition ties into the existing one-third of a mile of greenway that parallels North River Road near Del Rio Vineyards. Most of the work will be completed this summer; bridge installation will take place next fall. “The project is another important link that connects Grants Pass to Central Point, and ultimately to Ashland,” said Jackson County Bike and Pedestrian Program Manager Jenna Stanke. Most of the progress on the Rogue River Greenway project is between Gold Hill and the City of Rogue River, including approximately three-andJune 6, 2014

a-half miles of trail from Twin Bridges Road through Valley of the Rogue State Park to the Depot Street Bridge. “Much like occurred on the Bear Creek Greenway, which is celebrating its 40th birthday, segments of the Rogue River Greenway are being completed as property and funds are secured,” said Stanke. “We hope to not have to wait another 40 years to cut the ribbon between Ashland and Grants Pass.” The $1.7 million Bear Creek Greenway project fills the greenway gap from Central Point’s Pine Street Bridge north along the Jackson County Expo grounds and ponds and ties into the existing Greenway at Upton Road. Instead of following Bear Creek along the entire stretch, much of this section provides a safe route on the west side of the Expo grounds, paralleling Penninger Road on public property. “Trails are a great transportation and recreation assets that enhance the livability of our communities,” said Stanke. “We’re fortunate to have the backbone of a great system. We have many folks to thank for their vision and their efforts to get to where we are today.”

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ODOT and advises the agency in the regulation of bicycle and pedestrian traffic and the establishment of bikeways and walkways. Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Stanke was recently named chair of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The Oregon Bicycle Advisory Committee was formed by ORS 366.112, a bill passed in 1973 by the legislature. In 1995, the Oregon Transportation Commission officially recognized the committee’s role in pedestrian issues, changing the committee to OBPAC. The eight-member committee, appointed by the governor, acts as a liaison between the public and

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“It’s important to have a Southern Oregon voice on statewide bike and ped issues,” said Stanke, “and it’s an exciting time to be involved as more attention is being given to walking and biking at the local and statewide levels.” OBPAC’s mission is to promote walking and biking as part of a multimodal transportation system while providing leadership and expertise to ODOT and the state by: advancing best practices in planning, design and safety, informing and influencing and collaborating with others on transportation policy and funding. June 6, 2014


OREGON 99 CORRIDOR PLAN

FINDING A BALANCE

Working with the local residents and business owners who live and work along the corridor, the Oregon Department of Transportation is developing an Oregon 99 Corridor Plan that balances the important regional highway with its dual role as the main street for several Rogue Valley communities.

“We’re trying to find a balance for Oregon 99 that meets the operational needs of the highway and local communities,” Horlacher said. “Much of that balance is tied directly to safety issues.”

“For nearly a century, Oregon Highway 99 has connected Ashland and Medford,” said ODOT Planner Ian Horlacher. “It was the first paved highway in the United States to span a state from border to border.”

The Oregon 99 Corridor Study started in 2010 with the goal of finding ways to enhance transportation safety and capacity over the next 20 years. A technical advisory committee is comprised of the local jurisdictions along Oregon 99, including Jackson County, Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Medford, as well as ODOT.

Interstate 5 was later built as the critical West Coast route.

Travel volumes along Oregon 99 have decreased in recent years.

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We’re seeing decreases in “traffi c volumes related to

the recession, technological advancements and other social changes.

— ODOT Planner Ian Horlacher

“People have changed their driving habits,” said Horlacher. “We’re seeing decreases in traffic volumes related to the recession, technological advancements and other social changes.” However, with 15,000-17,000 vehicle trips per day along the corridor, Oregon 99 needs improvements. There were 308 traffic crashes — most rear-end collisions or involved cars making left turns — reported from 2005 to 2009 along the section of Oregon 99 being studied. ODOT staff and consultants are preparing a draft Corridor Plan for review. An open house is planned this summer so the public can review the proposals before the Corridor Plan is updated and taken to local communities for adoption. “Many of the improvements, such as improving access and signage to the Bear Creek Greenway, are relatively low cost because they involve striping within the existing highway width and need no right of way purchases,” Horlacher said.

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Corridor Plan proposals: • From Blue Heron Park in Phoenix to the southern city limits: reduce the four-lane section of highway to three lanes with a center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks; • From Phoenix to Talent, reduce the four-lane section of highway to three lanes with a 14-foot turn lane and a bike/pedestrian shoulder; • From Talent to Ashland, reduce the four-lane section of highway to three lanes with a 14-foot turn lane and a bike/pedestrian shoulder; • From Charlotte Ann in south Medford to Fern Valley Road in Phoenix: narrow existing highway to add a bike lane and sidewalk on each side while maintaining a fivelane section. “While there’s no money currently tied to these improvements, just having this plan in place will help advance these proposals into the funding channel,” said Horlacher. For more information about the work behind the Oregon 99 Corridor Plan, visit the project website: http://www. oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION3/ pages/OR99Corridor.aspx.

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