With three months before its scheduled May 15 opening, the Upton Road Bridge construction work spanning Interstate 5 has ramped up.
In February, 22 pre-cast concrete beams were set in place, connecting Central Point with the Jackson County Expo Park east of I-5. Each beam measured 109 feet in length and weighed about 35 tons.
The beam placement required nighttime detours for I-5 traffic. The Oregon Department of Transportation and local law enforcement and emergency service agencies coordinated the detour, which ran on Highway 99 between I-5 exit 30 (the north Medford interchange) and exit 35 (the Blackwell/Seven Oaks interchange).
‘For everyone’s safety, the contractor needed to have the interstate free of traffic,’ said ODOT Construction Project Manager Tim Fletcher. ‘Obviously, it’s difficult enough to maneuver a 35-ton beam into place without having traffic underfoot.’
The beams were placed over four nights, with I-5 detoured between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. According to Fletcher, the work went off without a hitch.
‘In the weeks leading up to the beam placement, we coordinated with Central Point, Medford, State Police, Jackson County Fire District 3 to minimize the disruption to the communities and I-5 traffic, and I think we succeeded,’ said Fletcher.
Work will continue on the Upton Road Bridge that spans Bear Creak. The new bridge is being built just north of the current structure, which is owned by Jackson County. Once completed, traffic will move onto the new bridge and the existing structure will be demolished and rebuilt.
At the end of the project, there will be two adjoining structures, each with two 12-foot travel lanes, sidewalks and bike lanes. The new bridge spanning Bear Creek will also be wide enough for a westbound left-turn refuge onto Penninger Road.
‘These new bridges will be a great feature for Central Point,’ said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. ‘In addition to a new crossing, these bridges will provide sidewalks and bike lanes for kids going to school or using the athletic fields. And it will also make it easier for people who want to walk to the Jackson County Fair.’
Shasta Constructors of Redding, California is the prime contractor on the $17 million bundle of bridge projects that replaces the Upton Road bridges. The replacement project for the Foley Lane Bridge on I-5 north of Blackwell Hill is in the same bridge bundle. The bridge bundles are designed to provide economies of scale to taxpayers and ease of construction for the contractor.
The bundle is part of the 10-year, $3 billion Oregon Transportation Investment Act. OTIA funds will repair or replace hundreds of bridges, pave and maintain city and county roads, improve and expand interchanges, add new capacity to Oregon’s highway system, and remove freight bottlenecks statewide.
About 17 family-wage jobs are sustained for every $1 million spent on transportation construction in Oregon. Each year during the OTIA program, construction projects will sustain about 5,000 family-wage jobs.