Bridges are beginning to take shape, even though they are temporary, on the South Medford Interchange projet.
Wildish Standard Paving of Eugene began construction on the interchange in May, and work is proceeding to repalce the aging Interstate 5 bridges over Bear Creek.
“The first thing people will notice is driving on the northbound temporary bridges over Bear Creek,” said ODOT Public Service Representative Bill Boyett. “By the end of this fall, traffic will move to those temporary structures so the contractor can demolish the old structure and begin work on the new, permanent bridges on the original interstate alignment.”
In March, the $70 million South Medford Interchange project went to bid after more than seven years of development on the Rogue Valley’s largest state highway project since Interstate 5 was built.
A joint venture with the City of Medford, the project is designed to improve safety and 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 handles 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.
Not surprisingly, the population growth in the Medford area was unforeseen when the interchange was built in 1963.
“This is quite simply the largest project many of us have ever worked on,” said Area Manager Art Anderson. “The plan sheets alone for this project are about 800 pages.”
A project Solution Team and Citizens Advisory Committee worked through more than 20 different concepts to develop the best design. The Highland Alternative was identified as the preferred alternative.
A video is available on the project Web site, www.smedfordinterchange.org, which shows how the SPUI operates.