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SMI project reaches new milestone with first ramp opening The northbound Interstate 5 off-ramp for the new South Medford Interchange project opened to traffic earlier this week. The opening is the first of two stages where new ramps will open and old ramps at the Barnett Road interchange will close.

Once traffic shifts to the new interchange, Wildish Standard Paving will begin replacing the Bear Creek Bridge on Barnett Road. Over its 60-year lifespan, the Bear Creek Bridge has experienced higher and higher traffic volumes. Today, more than 35,000 vehicles per day pass over the bridge, which spans Interstate 5 at exit 27.

Prime contractor Wildish Standard Paving of Eugene has rescheduled the southbound on-ramp opening for early January. “We had hoped to have these two ramps open in October,” said Gary Leaming, ODOT Project Information Specialist. “We’ve been looking forward to this milestone all year.”

During the six-month construction stage, Barnett Road will be closed to through traffic. Businesses in the area include Black Bear Restaurant, Dairy Queen and four motels – Motel 6 Medford South, Best Western Inn, Days Inn and Travelodge Medford.

According to ODOT Project Manager Joe Thomas, these two stages mark the first major shift for local traffic flow in the interchange area. (A full-color map of the new traffic configuration is on pages 6-7).

“We examined ways to rebuild the bridge in the least amount of time and with the fewest impacts to local traffic,” said Thomas.

“The new northbound on-ramp opening will be another critical piece to the project because it Construction work focused on the new northbound off-ramp. According to Thomas, clears the way for construction temporary bridges were not without delaying traffic,” said Thomas. a viable solution for this construction phase due to the traffic volumes and expected delays on Barnett Road Barring any further delays, the $70 million project as well as the additional time that would be added to should have the new interchange in operation by the the overall project schedule. The new bridge will touch end of spring 2009. down near the Black Bear Diner. According to Leaming, ODOT will launch an information campaign in the weeks before the full interchange opens. The campaign will include distributing maps to hotels, fuel stations, restaurants, medical offices and other local businesses.

“Wildish knows how important this link is to businesses and residents in south Medford,” said Bill Boyett, ODOT Public Service Representative.

SMI Project background The South Medford Interchange project is designed to improve safety and reduce congestion. The centerpiece of the project is construction of a new interchange 1,900 feet south of the existing Barnett Road exit (exit 27). The new interchange design is called a single point urban interchange (SPUI), which can handle large volumes of traffic. The SPUI is located close to Bear Creek, so additional bridges are needed to accommodate the retaining walls for the on- and off-ramps. The project went to bid in 2006 after more than seven years of development. The City of Medford is contributing $15 million toward the project. A project Solution Team and Citizens Advisory Committee worked through more than 20 different concepts to develop the design. The Highland Alternative was identified as the preferred alternative. Construction updates and a video are available on the project Web site, www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/ region3.

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