ODOT Moving Ahead - September 2013

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ON OUR COVER Interstate 5 runs through the middle of Medford carried on concrete piers that rise from Bear Creek. The Medford Viaduct, a 3,222-foot-long elevated series of spans constructed in 1962, is the most popular north-south connector for local motorists. INSIDE COVER Prime contractor Knife River Corporation continues construction on a northbound truck climbing lane over Sexton Mountain and the repaving of 17 miles of Interstate 5 from Hugo to Glendale.

EDITORIAL DIRECTORS Jared Castle, (541) 957-3656 jared.b.castle@odot.state.or.us Gary Leaming, (541) 774-6388 gary.w.leaming@odot.state.or.us ADVERTISING Dena DeRose, (541) 776-4439 dderose@mailtribune.com


Medford Viaduct Planning project weighs the future for Medford’s relationship with Interstate 5


Oregon 62: Major Facelift 3.6-mile project near Eagle Point adds new pavement, two-way, left-turn lane


Transportation Reality Rogue Valley communities adapt to new transportationfunding realities


Fern Valley Interchange $72 million project bids after utility work wraps up

CONTRIBUTORS Bret Jackson, Publication Supervisor Steve Johnson Photography Brian Fitz-Gerald, Illustration Jared Castle, Gary Leaming Writing

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.

Sally Ridenour, Shelley Snow Editing odotmovingahead.com ODOTMOVINGAHEAD.COM

September 6, 2013


Sights set on September

in-stream deadline

A 90-day, in-water work deadline for the Applegate River Bridge replacement project ends on Sept. 15. The deadline looms large for prime contractor Carter and Company of Salem as construction focuses on building a temporary structure just north of the existing bridge on U.S. 199. Traffic shifted over to the temporary structure during the second week of August, which allows the crew to focus on demolishing the 58-year-old


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Applegate River Bridge, located eight miles west of Grants Pass.

“Carter and Company has worked at a breakneck pace to meet the in-water deadline,” said ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk. The in-water work permit spans June to September because anadromous fish runs typically don’t spawn during summer months. During this period, the contractor can demolish the old bridge and drill supports for the structure.


According to Paselk, extra care will be taken when demolition begins on the old bridge. Post tension cables, installed during a 2001 repair project, have 170,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Each cable must be carefully released. “When a cable goes, it sounds like a broken piano string,” said Paselk. Construction began last April. Motorists had to contend with traffic delays as fill materials were brought in and compacted for the temporary bridge approaches and supports. The Redwood Highway speed limit in the work zone was reduced to 40 mph. “The key is to limit the impact to traffic,” said ODOT Project Information Specialist Dan Latham. “Constructing a temporary bridge allows us to keep traffic moving.” Vital connection The $5.9 million replacement project will use pre-stressed concrete beams on the new Applegate River Bridge.

Nearly 50 feet wide, the new bridge will feature two 12-foot travel lanes with two 10-foot shoulders. “The new railings will meet today’s safety standards and, unlike the existing bridge that has six supports in the river channel, the new structure will only have two,” said ODOT Lead Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs. Additionally, the new bridge will be slightly wider on the west end to accommodate a new turn lane at Riverbanks Road. “The Applegate River Bridge is a vital connection between Interstate 5, the Illinois Valley, northern California and the Oregon coast” Latham said. 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 bridge’s narrow 30-foot roadway and bridge rails do not meet today’s safety standards.


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NEWS BRIEFS nal Southern Oregon Occupatio Oct. 16 Safety & Health Conference The 23rd Annual Southern Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference is Oct. 16-17 at the Medford School District Education Center, 815 South Oakdale Avenue. “Learn, Link, Lead – A Pathway to Zero Harm” is this year’s conference theme.

“Safety improvements and good business go hand in hand,” said ODOT Civil Rights Field Coordinator Christie Meacham. “Contractors can learn a lot of ways to improve workplace safety and health at this conference.” The conference runs from 8 a.m. each day. For information or to register online, go to www.orosha.org.

Oct. 26 Free Business Resource Fair The 11th Annual Rogue Valley Business Resource Fair is scheduled for Saturday, October 26 at the RCC / SOU Higher Education Center, located at 101 Bartlett Street in Medford. Sponsored by Rogue Valley businesses and state and federal government organizations, the free informational event provides industry and trade seminars, consultations, and other key resources for small business owners and those considering an entrepreneurial venture. Admission is free. Pre-registration and same-day registration is available. Business and government representatives, including the Oregon


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Department of Transportation, will staff information booths in Exhibitors Hall. “The Resource Fair is neither a sales event nor a trade show,” said ODOT Civil Rights Field Coordinator Christie Meacham. “This is an invaluable opportunity, a golden ticket, for business owners to tap private and public resources that can help their business become more successful.” More information about the Rogue Valley Business Resource Fair is available via phone: (541) 552-8300; email: nickelb@sou.edu; and online: www.sou.edu/bizfair.


I-5 construction on Sexton could finish by year end Rock blasting and rolling slowdowns wrapped up last July as prime contractor Knife River Corporation focused the rest of the summer on repaving 17 miles of Interstate 5 and addressing other safety improvements included in the $28 million construction project. According to ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk, the construction work is moving along smoothly. The project could be completed by the end of 2013. “To speed up construction we allowed Knife River to close the northbound slow lane at night,” Paselk said. “The temporary refuge allowed dump trucks to move in and take material directly from the front end loaders working behind the protected concrete barrier. “If the schedule holds, we’re looking to wrap before winter.” In addition to new pavement and new striping from Hugo north to Glendale, the project will improve southbound curves located south of Smith Hill and will add a northbound climbing lane for commercial trucks, which are notorious for a slow climb over Sexton Mountain. The 12-foot truck climbing lane extends about 2.8 miles, starting as an extension of the northbound on-ramp at the Hugo (exit 66) interchange and ending just beyond the crest of the Sexton Mountain pass. The climbing lane replaces the former shoulder; a new 10-foot shoulder is being built to the right of the truck climbing lane.

Rock blasting ODOT used rolling slowdowns to keep traffic moving during the blasting stage earlier this summer. Pilot vehicles slowed I-5 traffic to roughly 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 blows onto the highway,” Paselk said. Climbing lane construction required closing the I-5 emergency shoulder and placing concrete barriers to separate traffic from the construction work. “This summer it has taken a little more time to travel through this stretch of I-5,” said ODOT Project Information Specialist Dan Latham. “There’s been a lot of construction activity. Drivers still need to keep an eye on the traffic flow. Watch for slow-moving vehicles and quick lane changes.” According to Paselk, an estimated 250,000 cubic yards of soil and rock are being moved to clear room for the new northbound truck climbing lane. Knife River is transferring the material to three areas along I-5 — the Merlin interchange, the Hugo interchange and slightly north of the Hugo interchange along Old Highway 99. “There’s enough material to fill nearly 14,000 18-yard dump trucks,” Paselk said. “These fill locations reduce the hauling cost and, by extension, reduce the overall project cost.”


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“Southern Oregon’s mountain passes are a weak link on the corridor,” said ODOT Project Leader Mark Leedom, who managed design for the I-5: Glendale to Hugo Paving & Sexton Climbing Lane project. “On each steep climb, trucks slow down in the outside lane, which results in immediate congestion on the pass, increasing the possibility of crashes.” 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.

Steep climbs Some of the steepest grades on the Interstate Highway System are located on I-5 in southern Oregon.

“The Federal Highway Administration identified that some of the worst truck bottlenecks in the nation are caused by steep grades on I-5 in southern Oregon.”

Commercial trucks have used the I-5 shoulders, designed to provide a safe refuge for disabled vehicles, to navigate southern Oregon’s mountain passes. Trucks using the shoulder cause significant damage that requires frequent repair.

When one commercial truck attempts to pass another slow-moving vehicle, both I-5 lanes are blocked, forcing traffic to brake hard or suddenly change lanes to avoid a collision. Some trucks drove along the shoulder but this left no room for disabled vehicles.


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The new climbing lane is expected to reduce the frequency of I-5 closures related to commercial trucks, especially during winter driving conditions. The new climbing lanes are being 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 between Sutherlin and Oakland. Climbing lanes are also located further north on I-5 (a three-mile section south of Salem) and on Interstate 84 (a seven-mile section east of Pendleton). More truck climbing lanes in southern Oregon are being considered, although no projects are currently funded.


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everyone’s responsibility Rosalee Senger, the ODOT regional traffic safety coordinator, encourages a safety routine at the end of each summer. Parents, older children and other family members share the responsibility to identify safe routes and teach traffic rules to younger children going back to school.

together to create opportunities to make walking and biking to school and throughout the neighborhood fun, easy, safe and healthy for all students and their families. Learn more at the program website, www.oregonsaferoutes.org.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility in the school zone, on the road, on the bike path or on the sidewalk,” said Senger. “With the start of the school year, law enforcement agencies focus on school zones. “The thought isn’t to write traffic tickets, it’s about avoiding a tragedy.” The Oregon Safe Routes to School Program is a partnership between city and county agencies, schools, community organizations, neighborhoods and schools that work


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Several other online resources can help you make good choices, including www.saferoutesinfo.org and www.walknbike.org.


continued on page 22


ODOT Planning Manager Mike Baker concedes that it is sometimes easier to explain what the upcoming Medford Viaduct facility plan will not do than what it will do.

changes to the local road network,” Baker said. “Some solutions might be a combination of them all. The project team will use public feedback to develop the facility plan.”

Without dedicated funding or a construction design on the shelf, the facility plan begins with a figurative white board from which to develop a 20-year vision for Medford’s most iconic and controversial bridge.

According to Baker, the scale of major project concepts, such as a full replacement of the viaduct or the addition of another deck, atop I-5 far exceed the level of transportation funding expected through year 2020.

The Medford viaduct supports Interstate 5 like a concrete and steel spine through the city. Two major exits — the south Medford interchange at exit 27 and the north Medford interchange at exit 30 — are on either end of the 3,222-foot bridge.

“When you start talking about replacement, project costs start at hundreds of millions of dollars,” Baker said. “It is imperative that we look at improvements at a lower range of costs that optimize public dollars.

The facility plan provides ODOT and local agencies and other stakeholders with a priority list of specific improvement projects. “Recommended improvements will likely focus on capacity, safety, and

“Our agency finished building the viaduct in 1962. Today, the viaduct is surrounded by environmental challenges and expensive right of way costs. There’s more than 50 years of residential and commercial growth that has grown up next to I-5.”


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The facility plan’s objectives are to: • Protect the viaduct’s function; • Develop concepts to improve safety and maximize operational efficiency; • Evaluate the need for capacity improvements to address future needs based on the adopted comprehensive land use plans of Medford and Jackson County; • Identify potential local system enhancements that maintain connectivity and complement the viaduct’s function; • Coordinate the study’s efforts with other plans and projects in the study area; and • Prioritize viaduct improvements with consideration for potential funding mechanisms. Citizen volunteers needed Later this month, ODOT will be looking for volunteers to serve on a Citizens Advisory Committee, which would meet regularly over the two-year planning study. CAC members would represent a variety of interests in the project area, such as businesses, residential neighborhoods, schools, senior citizens and commuters.


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old concrete bridge deck with a longer-lasting concrete surface, which provided a smoother ride,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming.

CAC members’ primary responsibilities are to: • Attend regular CAC meetings over a two-year period; • Assist in identifying project and community issues; • Provide guidance on project goals and objectives; • Discuss, evaluate and assist in the development of potential solutions; and • Make recommendations that represent their specific group’s interests.

The project also addressed erosion control from Bear Creek floodwaters by ramming steel sheets next to the base of the vertical bridge piers for protection.

The study will also include a Technical Advisory Committee, which provides technical and policy guidance to the project team. This group is commonly assembled with representatives from the local government agencies that are transportation stakeholders. “Once we get a consultant on board, we’ll develop the TAC and CAC teams,” Baker said. “These teams will then help host the public meetings to provide the general public the opportunity to learn about and offer their comments and feedback on the plan’s development.” Interested residents are encouraged to email ODOT Senior Planner Lisa Cortes at lisa.cortes@odot.state.or.us if they would like to serve on the Medford Viaduct CAC. Seismic retro-fit and scour protection Two major projects over the past decade improved the viaduct. An $18 million project completed in 2003 added a seismic retro-fit, a process that used steel cables to tie the deck to the vertical piers, so that the Medford viaduct could better withstand an earthquake. “One of the project’s more noticeable changes was the replacement of the

Narrowing I-5 to a single lane in each direction allowed prime contractor Wildish Standard Paving of Eugene to expedite the work. According to Leaming, the project would have taken three times longer to complete without a combination of round-the-clock construction schedules and paid incentives. That stage was completed three weeks ahead of schedule and well before the Memorial Day weekend, which is the start of the summer tourism season. “At that time, we calculated the delay cost to traffic was roughly $60,000 per day,” Leaming said, “and that didn’t factor in the disruptive cost to the community. “I-5 construction projects, especially on the Medford viaduct, bring tremendous challenges in terms of mitigating delays and congestion.” 2010 deck crack repairs ODOT returned in 2010 to fill surface cracks in the viaduct’s slow lanes with epoxy, extending the life of the bridge deck. The six-week project cost roughly $200,000. According to Leaming, the epoxy solution used had been applied on other bridges throughout the state. The work, which leaves a green patina, requires hot weather so the epoxy can seep and set up quickly.


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WILL IMPROVE SAFETY, REDUCE CONGESTION Right of way negotiations for construction easements along Crater Lake Highway — from Poplar Drive to Delta Waters Road — are at the heart of the current behindthe-scenes preparation for the Oregon 62 Expressway project. “The right of way work is not as visible as construction work but it is no less important to the overall project,” said ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever. “Even though a lot of the right of way along the Oregon 62 corridor is owned by our agency, there are gaps. “Our right of way agents are meeting with local property owners to secure the additional easements we need to provide the construction contractor room to work.” The corridor is a critical business connection for freight, tourism and commuters.

The project’s engineering team recently finetuned the conceptual design, leading to $15 million in savings. The changes included: • Building a short bridge over Commerce Drive to access the properties located along the east side of the Medford Airport instead of a series of streets from Vilas Road; • Replacing the planned connection of Justice Road and East Gregory Road with an emergency vehicle access from the expressway; and • Modifying the bridge over Vilas Road to accept a tighter diamond interchange design when on- and off-ramps are eventually constructed.


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“Oregon 62 and Delta Waters Road is the busiest intersection in the entire southwest Oregon region,” said Leever. “The traffic counts are higher than those at I-5 north of Medford.” The $120 million multimodal project is designed to increase capacity and improve safety along the Oregon 62. The highway exceeds capacity standards and future growth is expected to significantly increase traffic volumes. Addressing safety “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. The multimodal project adds sidewalks and transit-related enhancements on the existing Oregon 62 corridor. The project will also build a four-lane accesscontrolled 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 2014.


According to Leever, the most challenging segment during the first construction phase is 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 first-phase work will be completed at night or behind solid barrier to limit the impacts to traffic.” Traffic may be shifted from one side of the roadway to the other with construction occurring behind a concrete barrier. Final Environmental Impact Statement After nearly nine years of planning and public meetings, ODOT completed a federally-required Final Environmental Impact Statement last spring. The

document is necessary before construction can begin. Leever said the major concern he heard during the project’s public outreach period was how the entire project (estimated at $400 million) would impact individual properties along Oregon 62. “Both the northern portion of the corridor from Corey Road to Dutton Road and the southern portion from I-5 to Poplar Drive are planned for future construction,” Leever said. The 2009 Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act invested $100 million into the first two phases of the project. No funding is currently programmed for future phases. “Given the transportation budgets we currently face and the near-term forecast, we’re really thankful to have the funds to begin construction,” said Leever.


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near Eagle Point

The 3.6-mile section of Oregon 62 between Linn Road and Oregon 234 is getting an extreme makeover, a figurative facelift that includes widening, paving and the construction of a continuous, twoway, left-turn lane from Crystal Drive to Rolling Hills Drive. “Both the highway widening and the addition of a continuous, two-way, left-turn lane will improve safety,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “This project provides a turning refuge from Crystal Drive to Rolling Hills Drive.” After a flurry of utility relocations last spring and early summer, prime contractor Oregon Mainline of McMinnville switched to nighttime

construction following the Fourth of July holiday weekend to reduce the impacts during the busy summer tourism season. “Traffic is heavy on this section of highway, especially during the summer, so we limited work in the travel lanes to only at night,’ said ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. Earlier this year, the ODOT project team briefed the Eagle Point City Council. The project received an exception to the city’s noise ordinance. Much of the construction work is conducted at night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., to reduce the impact on summer traffic and speed up the construction schedule.

The project is scheduled for completion in October. Other construction work scheduled in this project includes: • Replacing culverts in the work zone (that work was completed by the Eagle Point Irrigation District and Rawhide Excavating of Madras); • Constructing a left-turn pocket for Barton Road; and • Relocating a limited number of mailboxes impacted by the Oregon 62 widening.


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The new Kane Creek Bridge opened to traffic in mid-July, following 10 days of round-the-clock construction. More important, the bridge opened minutes ahead of a promise to area businesses during the summer tourism season.

“We made a commitment at our open house last spring to the businesses and nearby residents,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “It just felt good to deliver on the promise to them.” Prime contractor Carter and Company of Salem replaced the rusting culvert with precast girders and bridge supports to expedite construction. The construction milestone included the reopening of the Interstate 5 ramps at

exit 40 near Gold Hill and a short access road that connects the southbound I-5 ramps to Old Stage Road. The first phase of construction last May included a four-day closure to drive pile and take measurements for the precast girders and bridge supports. The ODOT project team examined different approaches to replace the culvert, including whether to build a temporary detour structure and roadway or use an extended closure of the connector road. “The construction team approached this project as a template for faster bridge construction and succeeded,” Leaming said.


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September 6, 2013



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Moving Ahead “The Reality”

By John Watt Perhaps you have heard about the Hyperloop system that is being developed to move people across the country at an astounding 800 mph. In China, the Maglev train moves people from downtown Shanghai to the airport at an unbelievable 268 mph today. Now that is moving ahead. In the U.S. today, we are not moving quite so fast…yet. In 1903, Henry Ford rolled out his first car that had a top speed of 28 mph and drove on makeshift dirt roads. Since that time, the U.S. has developed over 47,000 miles of interstate highway systems, in addition to state and local highway and road systems. With the government and consumers demanding more clean fuel-efficient vehicles an imbalance is created in highway funding. Today’s more efficient cars and trucks are paying lower fuel taxes while wear and tear on the roads is the same or worse because of more vehicles and drivers. As Jackson and Josephine counties continue to see more people relocating to our beautiful part of the state, more cars and drivers are taking to the roads. Since 1999, we have some 23,000 more drivers on the roads and highways in Jackson and Josephine counties alone. In addition to an increase in auto traffic, we should expect to see a marked increase in the number of trucks hauling freight

to and from our community. All of these things create strain on a system that is critical to you, the reader. Investment in our roads is failing. While the country has relied on dedicated funding through gas taxes and vehicle fees, it can no longer count on a level of funding that will match the need. President Obama has asked to Congress to pass one time funding for infrastructure, which so far has been rejected. Even then, a sustainable funding system must be developed and approved by Congress. Public, private partnerships is another option that could be pursued. This option comes with many challenges but is certainly a worthwhile alternative. Another looming issue that policymakers and planners must consider is the reality of a coming seismic event. Scientists tell us that our region experiences major earthquakes every 300 years or so. That is, apparently at hand. If a major seismic event were to happen today, there is a very real possibility of major bridge collapses over I-5 from Southern California to the Canadian border. We don’t have to travel very far to see the viaduct that spans the city of Medford. Given the age and condition of the viaduct, estimates could see a major failure, if not an outright collapse of the entire structure. The community and ODOT must begin planning now to alleviate potential isolation from the rest of the state when the predicted earthquake occurs. As you can see from the other reports in this issue, good things are being built or upgraded on roads and highways throughout our region. Temporary inconveniences and long waits and backups lead to better and safer ways to move around Jackson and Josephine counties and the rest of the state. A continual reminder is that these projects require years of planning leading to months of construction. All of this takes investments on the


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part of the users of the system. In order to continue moving ahead, remember the realities that go along with building and maintaining our road and highway system. Whether investments continue to be totally

funded by the government or whether partnerships can be developed with private investors, something MUST be done so that we all may enjoy traveling on Oregon’s roads and highways.

About John Watt John Watt is a native Oregonian, born and raised in Lebanon, Oregon. He relocated 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.

continued from page 10 Dates to remember Sept. 15-21 — Child Passenger Safety Week

All participating schools received a free coordinator packet that includes tips and resources for:

Sept. 21 — National Seat Check Saturday: Oregon law requires child passengers weighing over 40 pounds to ride in booster seats until 8 years of age or 4’9” tall. For children who are physically beyond the safety seat, remember that all passengers must buckle up for safety.

• Promoting the event • Organizing parent volunteers • Procuring local prizes

Oct. 5 — 2013 Walk+Bike to School Day: www.walknbike.org Most of the schools that register will receive free incentives such as: • Helmets • Shoelaces • Great stickers • Temporary tattoos (kids love ‘em!) • Prize ribbons (like the ones you used to have on your peg board!)


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Register online at www.walknbike.org for the 2013 Walk+Bike to School Day. You can also register your school for the 2014 Walk+Bike Challenge Month and learn more about the curriculum and resources available to help you begin.


FERN VALLEY ON TRACK for 2014 construction start With the Fern Valley Interchange project bid opening scheduled for October, utility and right of way work continues at a brisk pace around the Interstate 5 exit 24 interchange in preparation for the $72 million project.

project back six months due to delays in acquiring the necessary right of way to construct a crossing diamond design for the new exit 24 interchange.

“We’re not happy about the delay but, on the bright side, we expect to “Utility companies have been worksee more competitive bids in Octoing since last spring to clear the way ber than we would have opened at for the impending road conthe beginning of the sumstruction,” said Dennis mer,” said ODOT Project Steers, ODOT’s public Leader Dick Leever. service representa“Contractors coming The crossing diamond tive. “Some utiloff a summer conity lines are being design provides a higher struction season buried and some tend to crunch capacity to move traffic lines are being numbers harder as while reducing right of relocated above they look forward ground. to the next conway needs. struction season. — ODOT Project Leader Dick Leever “The utility work may look and feel “I expect the compelike the larger project tition to submit better but you haven’t seen numbers in October.” anything yet. Building a new interchange will require at least two Crossing diamond design full construction seasons, so motorists The project’s design leaves most nearneed to continue to be patient and by roadways west of the interchange aware as they drive through the relatively untouched while constructproject area on I-5, Oregon 99 and ing the new interchange Fern Valley Road.” at a location just north of the existing bridge. Connecting I-5 and Phoenix, the Fern Valley interchange has its share of “The interchange’s crossing diamond traffic congestion, which is especially design provides a higher capacity to severe during the morning and evemove traffic while reducing right of ning commutes. Development, both existing and proposed, along the east way needs,” Leever said. side of the interstate in Phoenix has Vehicles crossing the interchange reduced the capacity and safety at move to the opposite side of the road the interchange. to either enter I-5 or to cross it, reducing the number of signal cycles for Earlier this year, the design team traffic to clear. pushed the Fern Valley Interchange odotmovingahead.com

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Scan here to find out more about the Fern Valley Interchange Project


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The Missouri Department of Transportation was the first public agency in the United States to construct an interchange with the crossing diamond design.

Phoenix via Luman Road,” Leever said. “However, there are still some details to work out. Staging proposals may be refined yet again once a contractor comes on board.”

The project will also realign North Phoenix Road between Peterbilt Motors Co. and Home Depot. The prime contractor will also be tasked with keeping traffic moving while upgrading the water line for the city of Phoenix.

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.

Collaboration with private contractors The project team collaborated with a several of 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. According to Leever, significant grade differences are in store for the winning prime contractor. The new roadway is designed to rise nearly eight feet higher than the current level at the top of the southbound I-5 off-ramp.

“Reducing congestion during construction will be quite a trick in such a tightly-developed commercial and residential interchange area,” Leever said. “Our plans call for stages to quickly and efficiently build the new interchange while keeping I-5 and the local roadways open at the same time.”

“We’re proposing the project contractor builds temporary southbound on- and off-ramps in the southwest quadrant of the interchange area, funneling traffic into

Sharing information key to project success “As the project nears its official kick off, businesses and residents will see more of us,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Gary Leaming. “Once we have a prime contractor on board and our construction plans are solid we’ll host another open house for the Phoenix community to share the details.”


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Keeping the businesses and commuters in the Phoenix community informed during the two-year construction schedule will be the key to reducing delays and traffic impacts. “Of course, another one of our major project goals is to keep construction impacts to a minimum,” said Leaming. “We are planning a significant media campaign to reach out to commuters and encourage them to use alternate routes and adjust their travel plans to avoid the busiest times of the day. “We will do our best to minimize the construction impacts, but there will be impacts.” 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. Natural colors incorporated into aesthetics Aesthetic features inspired by the natural colors surrounding Phoenix — the hills and grasses — are incorporated in the final design for the new Fern Valley Interchange project. The use of concrete form liners and different stains and paints presented opportunities to design a bridge with a local look instead of the drab concrete structures commonly built when I-5 was first constructed. 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. JTA investment A $25 million investment from the 2009 Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act was the last key to fully funding the Fern Valley Interchange project. The JTA was a funding package based in part on increases in truck weight-mile flat fees, registration fees, road use assessment fees, and heavy vehicle trip permit fees.


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“The JTA investment reflected the excellent work accomplished in the Rogue Valley,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. “Our construction office looks forward to starting this project, another strategic transportation investment in Jackson and Josephine counties.” IAMP approved The Phoenix Planning Commission and Phoenix City Council approved an Interchange Area Management Plan for I-5 exit 24 back in 2009. The IAMP is a requirement of the Oregon Transportation Commission, which sets policy for ODOT. The IAMP is a planning document that examines future development near the interchange while also protecting the public’s investment in the roadway system. IAMPs coordinate current and future land uses and transportation improvements to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods to, through, from, and within the area. “The IAMP protects the interchange further into the future, ensuring the area won’t get bogged down by traffic because of overdevelopment,” said Leever.