Interstate 5 drivers are watching construction work on the South Medford Interchange move ever closer toward the traffic lanes.
Last October, northbound I-5 traffic was moved to a temporary bridge over Bear Creek, so construction workers could remove the old northbound structure. Now, work proceeds to build a new northbound bridge that will last the next 75-100 years.
Once complete, southbound I-5 traffic will shift to the new bridge and the replacement work will begin on the existing southbound bridge.
During the wet weather, contractor Wildish Standard Paving of Eugene will be working on drilled shafts and supports for the numerous bridges involved in the project.
The $70 million South Medford Interchange project went to bid last March after more than seven years of development on what is 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 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, which can handle a large volume of traffic.
The City of Medford is contributing $15 million toward the project.
The single point urban interchange is located close to Bear Creek, so additional bridges are needed to accommodate the retaining walls for the on- and off-ramps.
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.
A video is available on the project Web site, www.smedfordinterchange.org, which shows how the SPUI operates.