With the design footprint approved, work now begins on two bypass alternatives for the Highway 62 Corridor project. Both alternatives will be studied in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The project, which has been in the making for more than two years, is led by teams comprised of local citizens and technical experts.
The Highway 62 corridor from Medford to White City experiences some of the heaviest traffic and congestion in southern Oregon. The volume of traffic in the corridor is similar to that found on Interstate 5 north of Medford. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, traffic on Highway 62 is expected to double in 20 years.
Safety is another concern on the corridor. Crash rates from Poplar Drive to Delta Waters Road and from Corey Road to Antelope Road exceed the statewide rate, primarily because of the volume of traffic and roadways and driveways located between those points.
“The teams put a lot of time and energy into this process to reach this milestone,” said ODOT Environmental Project Manager Jerry Marmon.
A technical study of the Split Diamond Alternative and Bypass Alternative is underway for the Draft EIS, which is scheduled for completion later this spring. Once the Draft EIS ready, ODOT will host an open house and open a 45-day public comment period.
“To get to this point, the teams dropped several alternatives that they thought were too disruptive,” Marmon said.
The teams unanimously dismissed the Texas Turnaround and Existing Highway alternatives because of their costs and impacts to existing businesses.
“We’ve reached out to the businesses and industrial users on the north and south parts of the corridor last year and received some excellent feedback,” ODOT Project Leader Debbie Timms said. “We also received good feedback during the September (2006) open houses, where a majority of people stated they liked the Split Diamond.
“We’ll take that same approach with meeting stakeholders near Vilas Road and near White City, sharing the footprint with them and listening to their concerns.” The corridor alternatives allow through traffic to travel on an access-controlled highway, leaving Highway 62 as it currently is with full access to streets and driveways.
The design concepts are available online at the Highway 62 Corridor Web site, www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/region3.
TWO OPTIONS AT THE SOUTH END BYPASS
- The Split-Diamond option, which would modify the existing ramps north of I-5 exit 30 to accommodate Bypass traffic. Motorists would travel on a separate road from I-5 to White City. The existing alignment on Oregon Highway 62 would remain as is with full access to businesses.
- The Bypass Alternative, where the bypass would merge with the existing Highway 62 from I-5 to near the current Butler Truck Center and Lava Lanes. Due to high volumes of traffic, there would be no access from that point west to I-5. The Poplar-Bullock intersection on Highway 62 would change into either an underpass or overpass.