South Medford InterchangeConstruction and Utility Work Shift Traffic on Barnett Road

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Since spring 2006, motorists on Interstate 5 and Barnett Road have watched construction from a distance.

Now, it’s on their doorstep.

Last month, Barnett Road was temporarily reconfi gured from Highland to Ellendale to accommodate utility and construction work on the south side of the road. The center turn lane was closed to accommodate a second lane of eastbound traffic on Barnett Road while maintaining a safe area for construction and utility workers.

“This work should take about six months,” said ODOT Public Service Representative Bill Boyett, who’s been busy canvassing the nearby businesses and medical centers. “Once this phase is complete, the crews will switch to similar work on the north side of Barnett Road.”

Worker safety and maintaining traffic flow are at the top of Boyett’s objectives. “At all times, we are trying to accommodate two lanes of traffic in each direction,” Boyett said, “even though we are limiting access to right in-right out in that section.”

Meanwhile, on Interstate 5, work proceeds with the new bridges over Bear Creek. Last October, northbound traffic was moved to a temporary bridge over Bear Creek, so workers could remove the old northbound structure. Now, the beam work is proceeding for the new northbound bridge.

It was a year ago this 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 can handle a large volume of traffic.

The City of Medford is contributing $15 million toward the project.

The SPUI is located close to Bear Creek, so additional bridges are needed to accommodate the retaining walls for the on- and off-ramps.

Construction updates and a video is available on the project Web site, www.smedfordinterchange.org, which shows how the SPUI operates.

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