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Construction rolls in Ashland, Grants Pass and Medford

A Mail Tribune Advertising Department publication

Summer Projects


Department of Transportation






ON OUR COVER Summer and paving go hand in hand. Prime contractor Knife River Corporation paves in Grants Pass as part of US 199 RCC (Rogue Community College) to Dowell Road, a $5.3 million safety project






Siskiyou Safety Rest Area Council approval signals a milestone for Ashland project


I-5 Rogue Valley Corridor Plan examines safety, capacity improvements


Medford Airport New infrastructure built for projected air cargo growth


OR 62-Owen Coker Butte Project addresses safety and traffic flow in east Medford

INSIDE COVER Knife River Corporation crew members pave the City of Medford’s Oregon 62 OwenCoker Butte project, which is designed to improve safety and traffic flow as well as reduce congestion.

EDITORIAL DIRECTORS Jared Castle, (541) 957-3656

CONTRIBUTORS Kristine DeVries Publication Supervisor

Gary Leaming, (541) 774-6388

Bret Jackson Graphic Design

ADVERTISING Dena DeRose, (541) 776-4439 For information on advertising in this publication please contact Patti Phillips-Kahn (541) 776-4396

April 23, 2011

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.



US 199 RCC to Dowell Road second phase of safety upgrades

“Drivers traveling on Redwood Highway (US 199) west of Grants Pass will see a lot of orange this summer in the work zone,” said ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. A second phase of transportation improvements is underway and will continue through October to make the Redwood Highway safer. Knife River Corporation is the prime contractor for the second phase of the US 199 Expressway project, known as US 199 RCC (Rogue Community College) to Dowell Road. The $5.3 million project is designed to separate oncoming Redwood Highway traffic with a low-level median and install a new signal at Hubbard Lane. 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. 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. The US 199 Expressway project’s first phase improved safety along more


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than two miles of the corridor’s west side from RCC to Midway Avenue, a segment of highway notorious for being one of Oregon’s most crashprone 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. RVACT shelves phase three “Our agency won’t build a project in a community that does not support the improvements,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. “Unfortunately, that is what happened with Grants Pass and Josephine County.” Anderson said the lack of community support was disheartening in light of all the recent state transportation projects in and around Josephine County over the past few years.

ODOT has “O

invested millions into Grants Pass...

— ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson

“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 the US 199 Expressway project and starting the second phase.” In March, the Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation (RVACT) voted to remove the remaining $4.5 million from the final phase of the US 199 Expressway project. 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.

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votes “ Our here have

Funds go to two Josephine County projects In May, RVACT members voted to transfer the remaining US 199 Expressway funds to two Josephine County projects: $950,000 for improvements to Allen Creek Road between US 199 and Oregon 238 and $2.7 million for improvements to I-5 exit 61 in Merlin. The funds that will be used to make improvements to Allen Creek Road between Redwood Highway (US 199) and Williams Highway (Oregon 238) requires a funding match of $1.35 million from the City of Grants Pass. The 10-to-9 vote reprioritized modernization funds that had been previously approved in October 2010. “What I’m hearing from our discussion is that equity is a goal and selection is based on the right project,” said RVACT Co-Chair Mike Montero prior to the vote. Montero said RVACT, which recommends projects to the Oregon Transportation Commission, follows a process and it does not include county earmarks. “Our votes here have consequences in those communities,” said Montero. Highway received priority status in 2006 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.


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consequences in those communities. — RVACT Co-Chair Mike Montero

A Citizens Advisory Committee and Project Development Team 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. A second group of citizens and businesses requested city officials commission another traffic engineer to develop a third alternative. This resulted in the ‘Working Group’ alternative, which was presented to the project teams for review and inclusion in the federally-required planning document. In February 2008, the teams 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.

Roadwork on tap for


“ This area is a safety

priority for our agency. — ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming

One of the more dangerous intersections in Josephine County is undergoing a widening project to improve sight clearance at the intersection of Oregon 238 (Williams Highway) and Jaynes Drive.

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

After several months of preparations that included three phases of tree removal, roadwork is set to begin this month.

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

“This area is a safety priority for our agency,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming.” According to Leaming, 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

Drivers can expect lane closures and intermittent delays in the work zone, located about two miles south of the Grants Pass Golf Club. The project is scheduled for completion this summer.

June 3, 2011


Old Pacific Highway landmarks undergo facelift

After a century of use, the Steinman Overcrossing will look like new once the refurbishing project is complete.

The next three months will see two of the agency’s original bridges receiving their first extensive rehabilitation in nearly a century. Through the end of August, the Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings located on Old Siskiyou Highway (Oregon 273) will get a makeover that will make them look like they did when Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as president in 1913.

closed. It is scheduled to reopen at the end of this month. The rest of the work can be completed with flaggers providing traffic control. Dollarhide is scheduled to be reopened by the end of August.

We’ve worked closely with “emergency service providers, the US Postal Service, and newspaper carriers to prepare for the bridge closures.

Prime contractor West — ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers Coast Contractors began the project last month, “We’ve worked closely with which includes replacing bridge rails; emergency service providers, the US cleaning and repairing cracked walls and spalled (flaking) girders; removing Postal Service, and newspaper carriers to prepare for the bridge closures,” and replacing the road surface; and said Public Service Representative rehabilitating the historic rock wall. Dennis Steers. “And of course we’ve had several mailings to homeowners The construction work requires a on the route, as well as a May open six-week closure on each bridge with house.” the Steinman Overcrossing currently


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The Dollarhide Overcrossing.

The Steinman Overcrossing.

Primarily used by homeowners living along the Old Siskiyou Highway, the Steinman (milepost 3.6) and Dollarhide (milepost 4.7) Overcrossings are loadlimited to prevent heavier vehicles from crossing the bridges.

passes both under and over the structure.”

“This rehabilitation project won’t change load limits on these bridges,” said ODOT Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs. “The repairs are only designed to maintain the current capacity.”

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.

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.

The book states the Dollarhide Overcrossing was built for a cost of $5,900.

“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 its inception, the state highway department was interested in building a modern road network around Oregon.”

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 ODOT Historian Christopher Bell. “The State Highway Department was looking for an opportunity to provide technical oversight.”

Jackson County was “ proactive in tapping the state’s engineering expertise to design the bridges for consistency and state funding.

Built by prime contractor J.W. Sweeney, the Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings have a storied place in Oregon’s transportation history.

— ODOT Historian Christopher Bell

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

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.

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T C E J O R P 2 6 Y A HIGHW s e iv t a n r e lt a d n e m m o teams rec With a 2013 construction target fast approaching, the City of Medford, Jackson County, ODOT and other key transportation stakeholders are working on the multi-modal transportation solution that will reduce congestion and improve safety along Crater Lake Highway (Oregon 62). Project teams for the Highway 62 Corridor project met last month to recommend build alternatives for the project’s north and south sections. The key recommendations come after technical data was presented to the project’s Citizens Advisory Committee and Project Development Teams, which have met regularly since 2004. Alternatives considered include three options for construction between Vilas

Road and Corey Road. Last year, the teams favored the ‘Haul Road’ option. Unit 1 of the Highway 62 Corridor project improved the north Medford interchange, realigning ramps, reducing congestion and improving safety around I-5 exit 30. The second unit, a $140 million project, would build a 4.5 mile-access controlled expressway that parallels the old Medco Haul Road between White City and Medford. According to ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever, multimodal options such as partnerships with Rogue Valley Transit District will be studied to see how enhancing transit runs can help reduce daily trips on the Highway 62 corridor.

E G N A H C R E T N I FERN VALLEY al design in fin Designers and right of way agents are working toward a construction date of 2014 for the Fern Valley Interchange project in Phoenix. The Interstate 5 Phoenix interchange (exit 24) experiences traffic congestion throughout the day, especially during the morning and afternoon commutes. Following a busy spring that included approval of the Interchange Area Management Plan by the Phoenix City Council and the Oregon Transportation Commission, right of way agents are acquiring needed properties for the $73 million project. “We’re coming into the final lap of development for this project,” said ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever.


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“Not only are we making offers and purchasing property but designer and drafters are working hard to complete final plans.” 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 new interchange will also be constructed using a crossing diamond design that provides a higher capacity 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 Siskiyou Safety Rest Area and Welcome Center for Interstate 5 south of Ashland reached another milestone last month. The Ashland City Council approved providing water and sewer services for the facility, which is located near I-5 milepost 12. The conditional approval requires that the Travel Oregon-funded welcome center be constructed at the same time as the rest area and that construction must take place within four years.

An architect’s drawing of the proposed Siskiyou Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center.

ODOT will seek irrigation water for eco-friendly landscaping from other sources. The agency’s efforts to use drought tolerant plants are evident in the construction of the improved, wider bridge and gateway landscaping planned at the nearby south Ashland interchange (exit 14). The project’s development included a restroom facility that has already been constructed at the Ashland Port of Entry to accommodate the commercial trucking industry. Truckers will be legally prohibited from using the Siskiyou Safety Rest Area.

“This will be a great opportunity to develop and enhance tourism efforts in Oregon while improving safety for drivers,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. The new rest area facility will feature state-of-the-art construction featuring a Cascadia-type lodge that matches the Northwest architecture of the area. Sustainable landscaping will also reflect native vegetation and Oregon’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

Planning for the facility has taken more than a decade. The original Siskiyou rest area located on a downgrade near milepost 10 was closed for safety reasons in the mid 1990s. The Federal Highway Administration approved the closure and continues to be supportive of the relocation plan.

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I-5 Rogue Valley Corridor Plan looks to the future The public is encouraged to provide input as ODOT assesses existing and future transportation conditions along the Interstate 5 and Oregon Highway 99 corridors from exit 11 south of Ashland to exit 35 north of Central Point. The I-5 Rogue Valley Corridor Plan will identify strategies and improvements to enhance transportation safety and capacity within the corridors. “The purpose is to discuss potential future projects and operations,” said ODOT Planning Manager Mike Baker. “I-5 was originally designed to provide capacity for a 20-year period of projected travel demand. With a quarter of the nation’s exports and imports passing through the corridor annually, I-5 is the third most heavily traveled truck corridor in the United States.”

and people within the state and into and out of the neighboring states of California and Washington. The corridor connects all of the major population centers of the western seaboard, including San Diego, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle. It also functions as an international thoroughfare by connecting to highways in Mexico and Canada.

The entire I-5 corridor is one of six interstate routes selected by the U.S. De- According to Baker, the ultimate partment of Transportation for the ‘Cor- outcome of this plan will be to initiate ridors of the Future’ program aimed solutions that meet ODOT’s mission statement: Provide at developing ina safe, efficient novative national I-5 is the third transportation sysand regional aptem that supports proaches to reduce most heavily economic opporcongestion and imtraveled truck tunity and livable prove the efficiency communities for of freight delivery. corridor in the Oregonians. Possible concepts United States. include building ODOT hosted new roads and add— ODOT Planning Manager Mike Baker its second public ing lanes to existmeeting about ing roads and integrating real-time traffic technology such the plan on May 10. A series of as lane management that can match presentations to city councils within the available capacity on roads to changing corridor is planned for this summer. traffic demands. “We’re nearing the end of the planning process but there’s still time The I-5 corridor was selected for the for public input,” Baker said. “Our ‘Corridors of the Future’ program due goal is to have the plan completed by to its potential to use public and private the end of the summer.” resources to reduce traffic congestion.

I-5 is a continuous interstate corridor extending through the United States from Mexico to Canada. As Oregon’s main north-south transportation facility, it is a critical link for moving commerce


June 3, 2011

For more information about the I-5 Rogue Valley Corridor Plan, contact ODOT Planning Manager Mike Baker at (541) 957-3658 or via email at

SUMMERConstruction Another busy summer of construction work is on tap for Oregon. Here’s a snapshot of some of the major projects the Oregon Department of Transportation has scheduled in the Rogue Valley this summer: Interstate 5 — Bridge replacement and repair on Ashland’s I-5 exits 14 and 19. Motorists should expect intermittent delays on the bridges.

Oregon Highway 273 (Old Siskiyou Highway) — Rehabilitation of the Dollarhide and Steinman bridges require a detour. Signs are posted for motorists.

U.S. Highway 199 (Redwood Highway) — The second phase of the US 199 Expressway project focuses on the stretch of highway between Rogue Community College and Dowell Road. Construction work involves building a raised median and adding a traffic signal at Hubbard Lane. No delays are expected but drivers are urged to use caution in the work zone.

Rosalee Senger, regional traffic safety coordinator for ODOT, said highway work zones are hazardous, and often more so for motorists and passengers than for workers. “Nearly all crashes are preventable,” Senger said. “Drivers need to treat work zones as places to slow down and pay extra attention.”

Oregon Highway 66 (Greensprings Highway) — Replacement of the Neil Creek bridge will be completed later this year. Motorists should expect short delays.

Even if you don’t see anyone working in a work zone, it’s still important to slow down because traffic lanes are often narrow, rough and have little or no shoulder in a work zone.

Oregon Highway 238 (Jacksonville Highway) — A widening project for the Jaynes Drive intersection will involve short delays.

According to Senger, the majority of people injured or killed in work zone crashes are drivers, passengers or pedestrians, not workers. The single biggest factor in crashes is driver inattention; that’s why orange cones, variable message signs and other tools are used to alert motorists. The other major contributing factor is speed, which is why work zones often require lower speed limits.

Road Project Hotlines • (800) 977-6368 (in-state callers only) • (503) 588-2941 (out-of-state callers) • 511 or

“We refer to these incidents as crashes not accidents,” said Senger. “Most vehicle crashes are the result of choices – choosing to follow too close, not paying attention, and driving under the influence.”

continued on page 14

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ODOT TV The agency’s TV talk show, “Moving Ahead with ODOT,” will provide a look at summer construction in the Rogue Valley. The next episode broadcasts live Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m. on Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV) government channels in Jackson and Josephine counties. The program can also be viewed online at July marks the beginning of the 13th season for “Moving Ahead with ODOT.” The monthly program features a live call-in segment that provides viewers an opportunity to ask transportation-related questions. Viewers can participate via the call-in number: (541) 552-6079. A new episode broadcasts live on the second Thursday of each month, rebroadcasting regularly on RVTV channels throughout the rest of the month. Rebroadcast dates and times are available on the RVTV website:


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talk show highlights summer construction ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming serves as the program’s host. Each one-hour episode features guests from local and state agencies as well as updates on construction projects in the Rogue Valley. “It is another great communication tool,” Leaming said. “We feature our publication, TV show and project websites in all three venues. We’re able to direct TV viewers to new online content and extend our outreach through the publication.” RVTV manages Southern Oregon’s first Public, Education, and Government (PEG) Access channels. “Moving Ahead with ODOT” debuted in July 1999, initially conceived as two or three individual programs to complement the agency’s public outreach efforts. “I know of no other ODOT office that utilizes so many creative communication tools,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson.

Medford Airport

addresses future freight demand

Inbound freight from hub airport Portland International is off-loaded at Rogue Valley International-Medford airport. Despite current economic conditions, freight numbers continue to rise.

O.K., so you probably don’t think that the package you just dropped off at your favorite freight forwarder plays much of a role in today’s economy. You’re just hoping it arrives in one piece and the recipient is pleased with what’s inside. However, according to the 2010/2011 predictions by Boeing’s World Air Cargo, the forecast for air cargo expansion will be almost 6% annually over the next 20 years. If these predictions prove accurate, traffic in air freight worldwide will triple by 2029. Taking the analogy of a river being fed by creeks, then small streams, and tributaries; you can see how air cargo begins with consumers shipping and receiving goods at small and medium airports, then having those goods transported through hub airports on a global scale.

trends have remained on track. As part of the long-range planning strategy, the airport has continued to move towards creating a better infrastructure to accommodate the projected growth.

The 2001 airport Master Plan developed for the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, crunched numbers for freight traffic over a decade ago, and these

ConnectOregon I funds in the amount of $4.766 million, combined with a 20% match for a total of $5.958 million. The projects, used to enhance multi-modal connectivity, included

The ConnectOregon Grant programs initiated under former Governor Kulongoski have been instrumental in continuing freight development at the airport. Initial expansion began with

As part of the long-range planning strategy, the airport has continued to move towards creating a better infrastructure to accommodate the projected growth.

June 3, 2011


ConnectOregon grants totaling nearly $10 million contribute to employment and growth in freight activity at the Rogue Valley International-Medford airport.

construction of a small freight storage facility, the completion of a heavy aircraft apron near the northwest area of the terminal, a transit hub, employee parking lots, a connector to Taxiway Alpha, and a small cargo ramp at the south location of the airfield. These projects were completed between 2007 and 2009. Grant monies received through ConnectOregon II are being invested in three phases. Phases 1 and 2 included the expansion of the south cargo apron, improvements and expansion of the ramp in front of Fed Ex, and the installation of signage and apron lighting. These projects were completed in 2010.

In spite of current economic conditions, freight numbers for the Rogue valley International-Medford airport were up in 2010 over 2009 by 6.24%.

Groundbreaking for Phase 3 of ConnectOregon II is currently underway and will include the construction of two large freight buildings (which can be divided for multiple occupancy), and site improvements including utilities, landscaping and parking. Award amount for ConnectOregon II was $4.760 million combined with a 20%


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match of $1.190 million, for a total project amount of $5.950 million. Completion date for this final phase is anticipated for the fall of 2011.

In spite of current economic conditions, freight numbers for the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport were up in 2010 over 2009, by 6.24%. At the end of March numbers were at 9.64% year-to-date. Monthto-month comparisons of March 2010 to 2011 indicated an almost 13% increase. So, the next time you send or receive a package, pat yourself on the back, you’re contributing to a better economic future.

June 3, 2011


CONSTRUCTION HEATS UP Drivers in northeast Medford are traveling through a flurry of road construction activity from the City of Medford’s Oregon 62 Owen-Coker Butte project.

“Despite the fire at Knife River’s asphalt plant earlier this spring, the project is pretty much on schedule,” said Medford City Engineer Larry Beskow.

Prime contractor Knife River Corporation work is focused on the northern part of the project between Coker Butte Road and the new realigned Crater Lake Avenue. This phase will tie in the new Coker Butte Road at the signal near the Lithia Motors dealership. Crews are also working off the shoulder of Crater Lake Highway.

Later this summer, construction work will wrap up with the application of a new roadway surface on Crater Lake Highway. However, before that occurs, the connection will be finished between the realigned Crater Lake Avenue and existing Coker Butte Road through city property now occupied by Hertz.

The Oregon 62 Owen-Coker Butte project is designed to improve safety and traffic flow, reducing congestion on Crater Lake Highway and Crater Lake Avenue.


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“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.”

The Oregon 62 “Owen-Coker Butte

project is designed to improve safety and traffic flow, reducing congestion on Crater Lake Highway and Crater Lake Avenue.

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;  Limits right turns only at the intersection of Cardinal Avenue and Oregon 62;  Closes the existing Webfoot Road and Coker Butte Road intersections east of Oregon 62; and 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 intersection by removing the frequent conflicts that arise because access was unsignalized and the intersections were too close to one another. For more project information visit the City of Medford’s project website:  improvement completed

improvement in progress

June 3, 2011


The future of

Transportation Funding By John Watt In today’s world, infrastructure is something we all take for granted. Electricity, water, sewer and transportation are just parts of the overall infrastructure system. We depend on that infrastructure to be in place and up to certain standards all the time. What if that infrastructure was less reliable or gone completely? Our lifestyle would be completely different. In order to maintain a vital, healthy economy we must have an adequate infrastructure so those high expectations can be maintained. It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a cost associated with the construction and maintenance of that effort. Oregon’s transportation infrastructure is financed by dedicated highway trust funds at the state and federal level. No state income tax dollars are used to build or maintain our streets, roads or highways. You only pay for transportation projects if you use the system. The state collects fees and gas taxes to own and operate a vehicle. Those fees are what make up the revenues to fund the Oregon


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Department of Transportation budget. The state also receives money from the federal government. It is important to note that the fees collected by ODOT are shared with cities and counties so they can maintain local roads and streets. As we look to the future of transportation funding we are seeing an uncertain future at best. The primary reason for these reduced revenues is much higher fuel efficiency standards in vehicles traveling on the road. Since 2001, the Oregon Legislature has realized that road funds have been diminishing. The Legislature created the Road User Fee Task Force. This task force recommended a plan to switch from a gas tax-based system to a vehicle miles traveled system. The recommendation was not politically favorable and has not been implemented. In the 2009 legislative session, the gas tax was increased by six cents. This was the first increase in state gas tax funding ODOT received since 1991. While the additional revenue has helped it is not enough to sustain the quality Oregonians expect for their roads and highway systems.

We have been fortunate in Southern Oregon to secure funding the last few years to finish some state highway projects that are critical to moving traffic in a safe and efficient manner in our region. Bringing a project to completion is a long and arduous process. Several projects remain in the pipeline to be finished. Replacement and repair of the two Interstate 5 overpasses in Ashland are nearing completion. Planning for the Highway 62 expressway north of Medford is still in the planning stages. One of the last major I-5 projects in the pipeline is the new Fern Valley interchange in Phoenix. The responsibility for developing funding lies with Congress and the state legislature. In order to maintain and preserve Oregon’s system of roads and highways in the future, new funding strategies will need to be developed to minimize the decline of the system. Failure to develop those funding strategies will result in deterioration of the system that will be extremely expensive to maintain and could be unsafe to use. In addition to the impact on moving traffic, there will be a huge impact on our local economy as those businesses that contract to do work on those projects will be reduced or eliminated altogether.

About John Watt John Watt is a native Oregonian, born and raised in Lebanon, Oregon. He relocated to Medford from the Willamette Valley to the Rogue Valley in 1982 with the Fred Meyer organization. In 1990, John was elected to the first of four terms as the State Representative for House District 50. Appointed Majority Whip in 1993, and serving on a variety of committees including Commerce, Energy and Environment, Information Management, Transportation, and Economic Development and chairing Labor, Rules and Reorganization, Revenue and serving on Ways and Means for four years, John has had a major role in shaping state policy for Oregon. He continues his involvement with state government through the Government Relations Company he and his wife started in 1999. John has been active in his community serving in many capacities. He has served as a Board Member and Past President of ACCESS, Inc.; as a board member of Dogs for the Deaf, Oregon Community Foundation - Southern Oregon Leadership Council, Bennett Scholarship Fund and the SMART Reading Program as well as through regional organizations such as the Oregon Highway Users Association, the State Road User’s Fee Task Force, Transportation Advocacy Committee (TRADCO), and as a member of the Medford/Jackson County Chamber Of Commerce. John is a Paul Harris Fellow and is past president of the Medford/Rogue Rotary Club. With his wife Cathy, he enjoys golfing, reading, and spending time with his three daughters and grandchildren.

June 3, 2011



Construction workers from Concrete Enterprises wrestle with steel that will make up the widened exit 14 bridge in south Ashland.

Construction crews at Ashland’s Interstate 5 exits – exit 14, the Green Springs Highway (Oregon 66) and exit 19, the north Ashland interchange – kicked into high gear as the days grew longer and temperatures rose. Earlier this spring, prime contractor Concrete Enterprises widened the exit 14 bridge deck and is beginning the necessary concrete pours that will form the surface of the wider structure. This phase follows a winter and spring when the new bridge vertical supports were poured and beams set in place. According to ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers, much of this work occurred without affecting traffic flow.

Once the exit 14 project is completed, the refurbished bridge will feature two travel lanes, a center turn lane, bicycle lanes and sidewalks. The new design also includes new lighting, traffic signals and a short median on the west side of the interchange. New bridge open at exit 19 Meanwhile, at the exit 19 bridge replacement project, prime contractor Oregon State Bridge Construction is quickly building the twin to the new bridge that opened last April. Demolition of the old bridge began the same night the new structure opened to traffic. Less than a month later, every vestige of the old bridge is gone. The contractor has drilled and poured the shafts for the twin bridge. The structure’s retaining walls are going up as well.

“For instance, concrete for the bridge pours was pumped from trucks on the closed southbound lanes of the interstate,” Steers said. “Traffic is flowing about as well as can be expected.

“The pace of work is not frenzied, but impressive,” said Steers. “Expect to see work in leaps and bounds now that the weather is at its best for construction.”

“Keeping southbound I-5 traffic on a median detour helps Concrete Enterprises work in the bridge widening and gives workers a safe refuge off of the Ashland Street overpass.”

When complete, the exit 19 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.


June 3, 2011

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. Tenfoot 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.

With weather looking favorable, construction has quickened with new retaining walls and bridge supports for the widened structure at the exit 19 north Ashland overpass.

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 mid2012.

June 3, 2011


Water Street Bridge repair wraps up early Prime contractor Wildish Standard Paving finished a repair project on Ashland’s Water Street Bridge last May, nearly a week before the planned completion date.

at the nearby Plaza Inn and Suites to inform the Ashland community of impacts from the bridge repair project with a stated deadline of midMay. The agency collaborated with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and nearby businesses to develop a construction schedule that finished no later than May 15, before the Memorial Day weekend and the official start of the summer tourism season.

“Going into the project, we aimed for the best window when the temperatures were the best to get the work done quickly with the least cost and disruption to Ashland’s tourism,” said ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. “The weather didn’t turn out as we ...the public understood the need for hoped. Yet, the bridge repair and showed great despite a cool and wet patience. It didn’t hurt that Wildish spring, the Standard Paving wrapped up the work contractor still managed a week ahead of schedule. to finish — ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming ahead of schedule.”

In addition to running into inclement weather, Wildish Standard Paving discovered more cracks in Water Street Bridge than had been expected, which required more epoxy material to fill the voids. Built in 1956, the bridge serves northbound Lithia Way traffic as it spans both Ashland Creek and Water Street near the Ashland Plaza. Absent the 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. This repair project will extend the life of Water Street Bridge at least another 25 years, according to ODOT bridge engineers.

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 required a transition to the bridge deck to remove asphalt. Then, the contractor drilled some 600 holes for shear anchors to be set and glued into place. Finally, the bridge deck was repaved with asphalt. “The project went smoothly,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “Overall, the public understood the need for the bridge repair and showed great patience. It didn’t hurt that Wildish Standard Paving wrapped up the work a week ahead of schedule.”

The agency hosted two open houses, in November 2010 and last March


June 3, 2011

Facing page: Prime contractor Wildish Standard Paving wraps up the final stage of work on Ashland’s Water Street Bridge.

DON’T GET A TICKET A message from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT Moving Ahead - June 2011  

Moving Ahead is a publication of the Mail Tribune Advertising Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT Moving Ahead - June 2011  

Moving Ahead is a publication of the Mail Tribune Advertising Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation.