ODOT Moving Ahead - April 2011

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Reviving Interstate 5

A Mail Tribune Advertising Department publication

Road to Oregon

Department of Transportation April

1 2011



ON OUR COVER Barney and Tami Lewis, owners of Triple A RV Center Inc., travel north across the Siskiyou Pass to illustrate the new Welcome to Oregon sign.


Ashland Bridges Concrete deck pours and new beams keep crews busy


Williams Highway Widening project to improve Jaynes Drive intersection


Dollarhide and Steinman ODOT’s first two bridges ready for rehabilitation

CONTRIBUTORS Kristine DeVries Publication Supervisor

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

Bret Jackson Graphic Design

For information on advertising in this publication please contact Patti Phillips-Kahn (541) 776-4396 pphillips-kahn@mailtribune.com


Fern Valley Interchange Construction slated for 2014 as design work continues

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

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



INSIDE COVER Construction workers from Oregon State Bridge Construction of Aumsville pour concrete for the new Interstate 5 bridge deck at exit 19 in Ashland.


Steve Johnson Photography 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.

We extend a special thank you to Barney and Tami Lewis, owners of Triple A RV Center Inc., for their help with this edition’s cover design.

odotmovingahead.com ODOTMOVINGAHEAD.COM

April 1, 2011


Repairs underway on Ashland’s


Prime contractor Wildish Standard Paving started a 12-week repair project on Ashland’s Water Street Bridge last month that will extend the life of the bridge at least another 25 years, according to ODOT bridge engineers. Built in 1956, the bridge serves northbound Lithia Way traffic as it spans both Ashland Creek and Water Street near the Ashland Plaza. Absent a repair project, the bridge – with moderate cracks in its deck and support structure – would be posted with load limits that prevent heavier vehicles, from commercial trucks to fire trucks, from crossing. “The project is designed to extend the bridge life at least another 25 years,” said Public Service Representative


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Dennis Steers, “with the least cost and disruption to the community.” ODOT hosted two open houses, in November 2010 and early last month, at the nearby Plaza Inn and Suites to inform the Ashland community of impacts from the bridge repair project slated for completion in mid-May. The agency worked with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and nearby businesses to develop a schedule that finishes no later than Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the summer tourism season. The project’s first stage began under the bridge, where crews injected epoxy-based glue into the interior girders and cross beams. The second stage requires a transition to the bridge deck

Heidi Dawn of the Rogue Valley Growers Market confirms parking closures during the bridge repair work.

to remove asphalt. Then, the contractor will perform drilling and shear anchor installation. Finally, the bridge deck will be repaved with asphalt. During these stages, traffic will be limited to a single lane on Lithia Way. “Traffic impacts like lane closures and detours will occur at different project stages,” said Steers. “This schedule allows us to get in and get out quickly, reducing impacts to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Ashland’s summer tourism industry.” The repair project includes drilling and installing about 600 shear anchors into the concrete beams. The drilling phase is the noisiest portion of the project and necessitates reducing Lithia Way traffic to a single-lane configuration. “The drilling noise is basically equivalent to what you’d find on a typical city street,” said Senior Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs. “If you’re standing right next to the work, the noise can reach about 90 decibels. It is like running a food processor in your kitchen.”

schedule allows “This us to get in and get

out quickly, reducing impacts to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Ashland’s summer tourism industry.

— Public Service Representative Dennis Steers

According to Steers, the Lithia Way ramp to Water Street remains open during the project. To accommodate traffic from Lithia Way to Main Street, southbound Main Street north of the project will be narrowed to a single lane near Helman Street. “Some parking spaces will be unavailable on Lithia Way and Water Street during the repair project,” Steers said. “The impacts are moderate for a bridge repair project like this.” odotmovingahead.com

April 1, 2011


Jackson County sees major decline in traffic fatalities Jackson County figures in 2010 and 2009 indicate a steady decline in the number of traffic fatalities since a high of 45 deaths in 2004, according to the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Program.

Traffic fatality statistics have some interesting twists for 2010

According to Program Manager Sandy Nelson, the encouraging news is related to increased education and enforcement. For the past 16 years, the Traffic Program has provided safety education for Jackson County drivers. The Traffic (enforcement) Team was later established in 2003.

• Three deaths were alcohol and/or drug involved, with three victims in those crashes;

“We received good news in 2009 and great news in 2010,” Nelson said. “Traffic deaths in 2010 remained low at 16 deaths [in 15 crashes] with the lowest recorded drug- and alcohol-involved deaths [three],” Nelson said. “Traffic deaths in 2009 were the lowest in decades.”

• Of the at-fault drivers, 12 were males and three were female;

“Traffic safety education and enforcement are important components of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office effort to ‘Protect and Serve’ the citizens of Jackson County,” Nelson said. “With safety engineering, education and enforcement, we are saving lives in Jackson County.”

• The 51-60 age group had the most victims;

• There were 15 fatal crashes, 16 total victims;

• Of the 16 deaths, 12 persons killed themselves; • Of the 16 victims, 13 were males, three female;

• The youngest traffic fatality was an 18-year old passenger, the oldest was an 87-year old driver; • The 51-60 age group were the most most frequent at fault drivers;

• 5.5 percent of deaths were alcohol and/or drug involved (national rate in 2009 was 33 percent) • Of the three alcohol-involved deaths, two were pedestrians who were impaired and stepped in front of traffic and were struck and killed;

For more information about the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Program, go online to www.co.jackson.or.us and select “Sheriff” under the departments menu.

• Only one crash was caused by an impaired driver in Jackson County in 2010.



















Alcohol & Drugs involved

16 (56%)

24 (54%)

17 (54%)

11 (53%)

10 (59%)

11 (43%)

8 (50%)

3 (5.5%)


April 1, 2011


Reading returns to Southwestern Oregon AS ODOT’S NEW REGION MANAGER Frank Reading took the helm of the ODOT Southwestern Oregon region last March, succeeding Paul Mather, who was named the agency’s Highway Division Administrator. For Reading, the new opportunity is a return to familiar territory, having started his ODOT career with the Roseburg Geology unit in 1990 before moving into the Coquille construction office. In 1998, he traveled across the state to Hermiston for a senior designer position. Reading was promoted to project manager of the Hermiston office and, later, area manager, moving to the region headquarters in La Grande. In that capacity, he supervised project development and construction for five counties and served as the agency representative on the North East Area Commission on Transportation, which includes Morrow, Baker, Union, Umatilla and Wallowa counties and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

In his new role, Reading is the regional chief executive officer responsible for the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations of state highways and related transportation facilities in Jackson, Josephine, Coos, Curry and Douglas counties. He manages a staff of more than 350 people.


April 1, 2011



The Phoenix City Council’s recent approval of the Interchange Area Management Plan for exit 24 cleared the way for design work to continue on the $73 million Fern Valley Interchange project, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2014. A February presentation by Area Manager Art Anderson to the Phoenix City Council detailed the need for the council to approve the IAMP in order to avoid losing project money. “Our agency had serious concerns whether the Fern Valley Interchange project was moving forward,” Anderson said. “Other state projects are in search of funding and, had this project stalled out any longer, it could have been picked off without a show of public support.” City council members raised concerns over a water line conflict that is estimated to cost $1.8 million. Although ODOT cannot pay to resolve


April 1, 2011


the water line conflict due to its location in the right of way, the agency pledged to work with the city and the development community to find a solution that is more manageable for the City of Phoenix. The IAMP, a requirement of the Oregon Transportation Commission, won’t take effect until the project goes to bid in 2013. According to Planning Manager Mike Baker, the IAMP’s purpose is to preserve the capacity of the interchange for at least the first 20 years of its design life as well as other roads in the vicinity of the interchange. The IAMP also protects their functional integrity, operations, and safety. “The IAMP strikes a balance between protecting the function of the interchange and the public’s investment while allowing the maximum amount of development in the Phoenix area,” Baker said.

The problem The Interstate 5 Phoenix interchange (exit 24) experiences traffic congestion throughout the day, especially during morning and afternoon commutes. Existing and proposed development along the east side of I-5, as well as development growth within the Rogue Valley, are choking the interchange’s capacity and causing safety concerns. The solution Prior to the IAMP approval last February, the Project Development Team unanimously supported the “North Phoenix Through” build alternative as part of the federally-required Environmental Assessment.

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. ODOT will construct the Fern Valley Interchange project using a crossing-diamond design that provides a higher capacity to move traffic while reducing right-of-way needs. Vehicles crossing the interchange move to the opposite side of the road to either enter I-5 or to cross it, reducing the number of signal cycles for traffic to clear. The Missouri Department of Transportation was the first agency to construct an interchange of this design in the United States.

For more information about the Fern Valley Interchange project visit the website: www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/region3/fvi_index.shtml.


April 1, 2011


Lower RVTD bus fares boost ridership

Full fare monthly pass sales increased 26 percent and full fare 20-ride punch card sales almost doubled, following a 20 percent reduction in monthly bus pass and punch card prices by the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD). “The boost in pass sales across the board is a good indicator of the increased ridership yet to come,” said RVTD Senior Planner Paige Townsend. “Plus, instead of losing revenue at first, like we expected, we actually had a net increase.” RVTD reduced its monthly bus pass and punch card prices on February 1. A full-fare monthly bus pass decreased from $70 to $56, saving passengers $168 annually. RVTD provides public transportation to the people of the Rogue Valley, and currently serves Medford, Phoenix, Talent, Ashland, Jacksonville, Central Point and White City. “With the economy still in recovery and many people looking for ways


April 1, 2011


to save money we felt it was a good time to initiate a price reduction,” said Townsend. “This is something we have thought about doing for awhile.” RVTD hopes that making the cost of monthly bus passes more affordable will help boost ridership. A monthly bus pass can be used for unlimited trips during a given month. With a $2 base fare, a monthly pass pays for itself once a person has taken 14 round trips per month. “Passengers are paying their way as they go,” said Townsend. “For the average person today, having the correct amount of fare on hand each time you want to use transit can be difficult. We want to make transit easy to use and easy on our drivers to administer.” The cost of a 20-ride punch card dropped to $32. “The 20-ride punch card is a good option for the casual rider because although it’s limited to 20 rides, it doesn’t expire,” says Townsend.

boost in pass sales across the “ Theboard is a good indicator of the increased ridership yet to come. — RVTD Senior Planner Paige Townsend

RVTD also introduced a new reduced fare 20-ride punch card for $16 in February. Passengers who are aged 62 and over or who are under 18 qualify for reduced fare. The reduced fare monthly bus pass was cut from $35 to $28. RVTD has already sold more than 300 new reduced fare 20-ride punch cards. Sales of monthly bus passes have been low for several years making up only a small portion of RVTD’s total fare revenue. Total FY 2009-2010 revenue from fares was nearly $1,063,000 while pass sales were only $248,445, approximately 23 percent of RVTD’s total ‘fare box return.’ This equates to more than three-quarters of RVTD’s fare coming from cash and tokens paying for each trip a person takes by bus. For more information or to purchase a pass, please visit Front Street Station in downtown Medford at 200 S. Front St. or call 541-779-2877.


April 1, 2011


Ashland bridge work


An Oregon State Bridge construction worker smooths fresh concrete during a recent deck pour on the new Ashland Interstate 5 exit 19 bridge.

Construction crews at Ashland’s Interstate 5 exits – exit 14, the Green Springs Highway (Oregon 66) and exit 19, the north Ashland interchange – made strides during the winter. At exit 14, prime contractor Concrete Enterprises of Stayton set sixteen concrete bridge beams on either side of the existing exit 14 bridge. The next stage of the bridge widening project is underway with crews doing concrete work to tie the new supports to the top of the bridge. The contractor also completed work to lower the I-5 roadbed so that it meets today’s clearance standards (17.4 feet). “Traffic is flowing about as well as can be expected,” said Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. “Keeping southbound I-5 traffic on a median detour helps the contractor work in the bridge widening and gives workers a safe refuge off of the Ashland Street overpass.”


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Once the exit 14 project is completed, the refurbished bridge will have two travel lanes, a center turn lane, bicycle lanes and sidewalks. Lighting, traffic signals and a short median on the west side of the interchange are also part of the new design. Concrete pours at exit 19 Meanwhile, at the exit 19 bridge replacement project, prime contractor Oregon State Bridge Construction of Aumsville spent the winter constructing the first half of the new bridge. Work included setting steel beams and pouring concrete for the new bridge deck. “The plan right now is to get traffic on the new bridge by Memorial Day,” said Steers. “Then, the contractor can tear down the other half of the old bridge and build a new one where the existing structure is now.” According to Steers, much of the winter construction work was off the roadway, so local traffic on Valley View Road was unaffected.

One of 32 concrete beams is lifted into place that will make up the widened Ashland Interstate 5 exit 14 bridge. Some of the bridge work is done at night so traffic impacts will be lessened.

Concrete Enterprise construction workers guide a bridge beam so it properly sets on its bearing pad. The longest set of beams on the exit 14 widening project is 83 feet long and nearly four feet high.

The existing I-5 exit 19 bridge is being replaced with a wider structure. The new bridge will provide two 12-foot travel lanes, a center turn lane, and widened shoulders on a slightly different alignment. The exit 19 bridge design is a simplified version of exit 14. Art Deco theme A nine-member Aesthetic Advisory Committee, appointed by the City of Ashland to make design recommendations for the project, recommended an Art Deco theme for the bridges. The new bridges will feature artistic treatments that reflect downtown Ashland’s historic architecture and natural environment. The group found inspiration in design details from the rooftop of the 1925 Ashland Springs Hotel. Ten-foot tall concrete pylons at the ends of the bridges are topped by pointed “chevron” designs also found on the hotel’s parapets. The shape also is featured on the supports for the light poles. The pedestrian fencing with a rust-colored powder coating features

a central arch design that can be seen on the hotel’s rooftop facade. In another nod to downtown Ashland, the light poles on the bridge will provide supports for banners. Light fixtures will be dark-sky compliant to minimize light pollution at night. Both interchanges will be painted a light tan color to match their natural surroundings and new landscaping will be included. “When the two projects are finished, the Ashland exits are going to look completely different,” Steers said, “The bicycle and pedestrian improvements should really please everyone.” The two construction projects are scheduled for completion by mid-2012. odotmovingahead.com

April 1, 2011


US 199 RCC TO DOWELL ROAD Safety project starts this summer

Westbound traffic stops at one of several lights in the congested urban section of US 199 in Grants Pass. Future funding for this urban phase was recently dropped because Grants Pass and Josephine County did not support those improvements.

The second phase of transportation improvements developed through the US 199 Expressway project will begin construction west of Grants Pass on the Redwood Highway (US 199) this summer. Knife River Corporation of Central Point is the prime contractor for the $5.3 million project, known as US 199 RCC (Rogue Community College) to Dowell Road. The project is scheduled to begin in April and wrap up in October. The project is designed to separate oncoming Redwood Highway traffic


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with a low-level median and install a new signal at Dowell Road. A new multi-use path will be constructed for bicyclists and pedestrians on the north side of the Redwood Highway between Dowell Road and Hubbard Lane. “The second phase of the US 199 Expressway project will go a long way toward making the highway safer for drivers,” said Project Leader Jayne Randleman. “This is the engineering component that ties in to the education and enforcement efforts seen along the corridor for nearly a decade.”

US-199 Expressway - RCC Dowell Road

Design and development of the US 199 Expressway project began with a federally-required study of the corridor in 2006 that included public input into the project. Highway received priority status The Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation (RVACT) designated the US 199 Expressway project a regional priority in 2006, partially due to the increased number of fatal and serious injury crashes along the corridor. RVACT is an advisory body that considers regional and local transportation issues affecting the state system. RVACT plays a key advisory role in the development of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which schedules funded transportation projects. The project’s first phase improved safety along more than two miles of the corridor’s west side from Rogue

Community College to Midway Avenue, a section of highway notorious for being one Oregon’s most crash-prone sections. The $3.5 million first phase installed medians to channel turning traffic and a raised median to stop a vehicle from crossing into the opposite lanes of travel. The project accommodated u-turns at Hubbard Lane and a wider intersection at Midway Avenue. Two alternatives surface A Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and Project Development Team (PDT) comprised of representatives, citizens and businesses from Grants Pass and Josephine County developed an alternative design, known as ‘Alternative A’ to present to the public. Meanwhile, a second group of citizens and businesses pressured city officials to commission another traffic engineer to develop a third alternative. This resulted in the ‘Working


April 1, 2011


“ A lot of citizens Group’ alternative, which was presented to the project’s CAC and PDT for review and inclusion in the federallyrequired planning document. “The ‘Working Group’ alternative didn’t make sense for drivers,” said District Manager Jerry Marmon. “The design forced drivers heading to the coast to start in the right lane and then end up in the far left lane to get to their destination.” In February 2008, the CAC and PDT selected Alternative A, a design that allowed traffic to move easily through the corridor while accommodating local businesses along the highway and those on a redesigned Redwood Avenue. Alternative A received some local business support, including the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce Director Jon Jordan who sat on the project’s development team. However, concerns by several other businesses and locally-elected officials stopped the larger project. “ODOT will not build a project in a community that does not support the improvements,” said Area Manager Art Anderson, “and that is the case with Grants Pass and Josephine County.” Phase three shelved Anderson said the lack of community support was disheartening in light of all the recent state transportation projects in and around Josephine County.


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and business owners volunteered their time to make Their community safer. — ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson

“Over the last few years, ODOT has invested millions into Grants Pass, rebuilding the south Grants Pass exit on Interstate 5, replacing the I-5 bridge over Beacon Drive and adding a passing lane between Hayes Hill and the Applegate River Bridge,” said Anderson. “And that’s in addition to completing the first phase of US 199 Expressway project.” RVACT met in Grants Pass in March 2011. The Commission voted unanimously to remove the remaining $4.5 million from the final phase of the US 199 Expressway project. Following the vote, ACT members from Josephine County requested that the funds be reassigned to another project in the county. That request will be debated at the next RVACT meeting scheduled in May. “I’m disappointed to see this transportation need left unresolved, especially after a thorough public planning process,” Anderson said. “A lot of citizens and business owners volunteered their time to make their community safer. They should be acknowledged for their efforts.”

Widening project to IMPROVE SAFETY ON OREGON 238

A highway widening project at the intersection of Oregon 238 (Williams Highway) and Jaynes Drive necessitated the removal of about 75 trees last month to make way for the new design.

Trees have been cleared next to Oregon 238 and Jaynes Drive, south of Grants Pass. Construction will begin later in the spring on a new turn lane which will improve safety at the intersection.

The $1.5 million project widens Oregon 238 to accommodate a center turn lane and allows for a wider shoulder for right-turning movements from the highway to Jaynes Drive.

According to Leaming, the nearby hill reduces the line of sight for drivers. In addition to the tree removal, ODOT combined some driveways to make access safer for homeowners near Jaynes Drive.

“This location has a higher than normal crash rate for rural highways of its type,” said Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “The addition of the center turn lane and improved visibility will make the intersection of Williams Highway and Jaynes Drive safer for everyone.”

“We expect roadwork to begin in either late April or May,” Leaming said. “Drivers can expect lane closures and intermittent delays during the construction work.” The project is scheduled for completion this summer.


April 1, 2011



OREGON 62-OWEN/COKER BUTTE PROJECT Drivers in east Medford should prepare for an increase in construction activity after a relatively quiet winter on the Oregon 62 Owen-Coker Butte project. “The project is on schedule and construction work will ramp up as the weather improves,” said Medford City Engineer Larry Beskow. The Oregon 62 Owen-Coker Butte project in northeast Medford is designed to improve safety and traffic flow, reducing congestion on Crater Lake Highway and Crater Lake Avenue. Prime contractor Knife River Corporation focused its work primarily on Crater Lake Avenue and Webfoot Drive since the project began in summer

2010. The last major project milestone was in November 2010 when the contractor activated the new Owen Drive signal, a new four-way, signalized intersection that connects the shopping center, Owen and Springbrook Drive. The work on the east side of Oregon 62 realigns Crater Lake Avenue. Blue business access signs have been up to notify motorists that both driveways and businesses are open during construction. According to Beskow, if weather permits in April, prime contractor Knife River Corporation will begin paving the north side of the project at Coker Butte and Crater Lake Avenue. Later this summer, Knife River will work to connect Crater Lake Avenue through a section of the Hertz car dealership.

“ The project is on schedule and

construction work will ramp up as the weather improves. — Larry Beskow, Medford City Engineer


April 1, 2011


Oregon 62: Owen - Coker Butte Project

“The City of Medford purchased that section of property back in 1992,” Beskow said. The City was looking ahead to a project such as this. When Hertz located there they knew a road project would eventually use a portion of that property in the future.”

• Limits right turns only at the intersection of Cardinal Avenue and Oregon 62;

The icing on the cake comes at the end of the summer when Oregon 62 is paved, which means the project will be finished.

• Improves Crater Lake Avenue by moving it farther east from Oregon 62 at both Owen Drive and the new four-way Coker Butte intersection. This will improve the safety of the intesection by removing the frequent conflicts that arise because access was unsignalized and the intersections were too close to one another.

The two-year project makes the following transportation improvements: • Moves the Cardinal Avenue traffic signal south to the improved Owen Drive, which becomes a four-way intersection;

• Closes the existing Webfoot Road and Coker Butte Road intersections east of Oregon 62; and

For more project information visit the City of Medford’s project website: www.ci.medford.or.us/Projects.asp. odotmovingahead.com

April 1, 2011


Agency’s first bridges scheduled for rehabilitation

The historic bridge has withstood nearly a century of motorists. When refurbished, the new bridge and rail will look as it was originally designed.

Over the past decade, the Oregon Transportation Investment Act repaired and replaced hundreds of bridges, focusing on removing freight bottlenecks statewide. Now, the agency is undertaking a bridge rehabilitation project this summer that touches back to its creation in 1913. Scheduled for rehabilitation are the Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings located on the Old Siskiyou Highway (Oregon 273), the first two bridges engineered by the State Highway Department. The project, scheduled for completion at the end of the summer, involves replacing bridge rails; cleaning and repairing cracked walls and spalled (flaking) girders; removing and replacing the road surface; and rehabilitating the historic rock wall.


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The construction work requires a sixweek closure on each bridge with the Steinman Overcrossing scheduled first. The rest of the work can be completed with flaggers providing traffic control. “Signing will be up weeks in advance of the bridge closures,” said Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. “We’ve worked closely with emergency service providers, the US Postal Service, and newspaper carriers to prepare for the bridge closures.” Primarily used by homeowners living along the Old Siskiyou Highway, the Steinman (mile point 3.6) and Dollarhide (mile point 4.7) Overcrossings are load-limited to prevent heavier vehicles from crossing the bridges. “This rehabilitation project won’t change load limits on these bridges,”

said Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs. “The repairs are only designed to maintain the current capacity.” Steers added that the low traffic volume on the Old Siskiyou Highway doesn’t warrant the need for a larger repair or replacement project. The project’s overall budget is $955,000. Transportation history The cost to construct these two bridges was shared by the state, Jackson County and the Southern Pacific Railroad. “Jackson County was proactive in tapping the state’s engineering expertise to design the bridges for consistency and state funding,” said Historian Christopher Bell. “The State Highway Department was looking for an opportunity to provide technical oversight.” Built by prime contractor J.W. Sweeney, the Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings have a storied place in Oregon’s transportation history.

The book states the Dollarhide Overcrossing was built for a cost of $5,900. According to Bell, a lot of drama was associated with the construction and the project ran into cost overruns ultimately resolved in court. However, the rough beginnings didn’t detour the State Highway Department. “The Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings started the department’s work on US 99. The Department was also beginning to focus on another well known roadway, the Columbia River Highway,” Bell said. From it’s inception, the state highway department was interested in building a modern road network around Oregon.”

Built in 1914, the Dollarhide bridge’s skewed design allows for both the crossing of the railroad and curvature of the highway.

Historic Highway Bridges of Oregon, by Dwight A Smith, James B. Norman, and Pieter T. Tykman, notes the “[Steinman Overcrossing] is the only known switchback on Oregon’s highway system where the roadway passes both under and over the structure.”

The Bureau of Public Roads, a precursor to the Federal Highway Administration, was concerned about bridge construction. Oregon understood the need and the value, so the department focused on safety and consistency in bridge construction.

When first constructed, old Pacific Highway was unpaved in this section as it crossed both the highway and the Southern Pacific tracks. Up until the late 1920s, this was the main railroad route on the West Coast.


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Project 101

By Mike Montero

When traffic backs up most of us think “Why don’t they do something about this?” Then, an agency recognizes that a project is needed and thus begins the planning process for a transportation project. It may come as a surprise that it is not unusual for project planning to take much longer than actual project construction. It may also surprise many that planning for large projects is a major investment itself and requires thousands of hours of staff, consultant and volunteer time. Many people are also appalled at the cost and length of time that it takes to see a transportation project come to completion. This begs the question, why? The following illuminates the challenges for transportation planning and its return to the public. The traveling public who will use the new project want to make certain


that the project benefits its “users.” To illustrate, pedestrians, bicycling, autos, transit busses and trucks are all “transportation users.” It is obvious, given the differing size and operational needs of each user, great care and planning needs to occur to ensure that the project can meet the varied user needs provided by these different modes of transportation. Agencies responsible for the planning, selection and funding of these projects are required to navigate through an array of agency-specific rules which reflect each institution’s regulations. For obvious reasons some conflicts can and do occur and must be reconciled through the planning process. One regional project recently constructed in the Southwest Oregon region had to comply with the specific rules of in excess of 35 federal, state, tribal, environmental and local agencies.

continued on page 26 April 1, 2011



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continued from page 24

Transportation infrastructure is a precious community asset.

Even though the city benefits as a whole when a project is proposed in an urbanized area the neighborhood in which the project is to be constructed experiences the actual impact. As a result, conflict can occur even within the same community. Communities have transportation personalities just as the users do. Transportation agencies as well as elected officials are responsible to ensure that the community personality is taken into account while ensuring that its citizens have an opportunity to be informed and their input is incorporated into transportation decision making. In spite of sufficiently advertised and conducted planning meetings, it is not unusual for third parties to register concerns and, in some cases, legally challenge projects into which the public has made a major investment of scarce taxpayer resources. Project construction delays can result during project planning designed to navigate a process intended to make the best use of public funds while being mindful of user needs and neighborhood impacts. As an example, delays caused by challenges to several regional projects, have stranded the public’s investment in planning where impasses have occurred. In other delayed projects, the unintended consequences have been expressed in substantial cost overruns when higher commodity prices for steel, concrete, asphalt and fuel surcharges had to be absorbed.


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Does this mean that transportation projects should ignore any of these issues? Absolutely not! Transportation infrastructure is a precious community asset. Comprehensive transportation planning is the public’s investment with the goal to best plan and construct community assets while balancing the needs and impacts to users and the community.

About Mike Montero Co-chair and founding member of RVACT, Mike Montero is principal of Montero & Associates, LLC., an urban development consulting firm. Mike is chair of the Transportation Action Team for The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County.

About RVACT The Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation was charted in 1997 by the Oregon Transportation Commission. RVACT address all aspects of transportation (surface, marine, air, and transportation safety) with primary focus on the state transportation system. The advisory body considers regional and local transportation issues if they affect the state system. RVACT plays a key advisory role in the development of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which schedules funded transportation projects. RVACT establishes a public process for area project selection priorities for the STIP. Through that process and following adopted project eligibility criteria, they prioritize transportation problems and solutions and recommend projects in their area to be included in the STIP.

Living life in the fast lane? Not everyone may be able to see you.