Motorists are adapting to several facility changes along Interstate 5 in southern Douglas County, including the closure of two rest areas, the opening of Oregon’s first privately-owned rest stop in Canyonville, and the operation of a new southbound Motor Carrier weigh station north of Myrtle Creek.
The changes come about as ODOT addresses a steady decline in funding as well as direction from Governor Kitzhaber to deliver services smarter, more efficiently, and at less cost to taxpayers.
The Jordan Creek rest stop opened at Canyonville exit 99 this past summer. Built and operated by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, it is the first privately-owned rest area in the state. In 2010, the Oregon Travel Information Council began managing five rest areas on I-5 and Interstate 84. However, each of those facilities are still owned by ODOT.
“This is a unique opportunity for our agency,” said ODOT Maintenance Manager Darrin Neavoll. “This partnership allows us to provide better service for the driving public while significantly reducing our maintenance costs.”
Major upgrades to the sewer treatment system, projected to cost $2 million, were needed to keep the former South Umpqua rest areas (milepost 112 north of Myrtle Creek) operational. ODOT chose instead to close the southbound rest area in September 2009 and remove the northbound rest area in December 2010. The annual maintenance cost for a rest area is about $125,000 per year.
Meanwhile, the Cow Creek rest areas located near Glendale exit 80 are scheduled to permanently close later this month. Neavoll said the agency decided to keep them open during the busy summer tourism season while drivers become familiar with the new facility in Canyonville. He estimates the removal of the rest areas will exceed $300,000 because the agency is required to remove the sewer treatment system.
Public concerns about the closures were focused on the distance between rest areas. The Federal Highway Administration requirement is one rest area every 60 miles.
“People appreciate the convenience of having a rest area every 40-50 miles,” Neavoll said. “After all the changes happen, we’ll still be in good shape. The distance between the next available rest area to the south will be 37 miles (the Manzanita rest area in Josephine County) and 43 miles to the north (the Cabin Creek rest area in Douglas County).”
The new rest stop was designed with a men’s and women’s restroom located in the same building and two companion care restrooms for caregiving families. The facility features heated floors and hand dryers, a fenced dog run, as well as kiosks of travel information. Tribal security officers will patrol the rest stop as an added safety measure.
ODOT entered into a 20-year agreement with the Tribe to operate the rest stop.
Booth Ranch weigh station
The former southbound rest area at milepost 112 was converted into a new weigh station for ODOT Motor Carrier. Opened last February, the station replaces the former Wilbur station located north of Roseburg that was removed to accommodate a construction project.
According to Ashland-Roseburg District Manager Leslie Elbon, the new, southbound Booth Ranch weigh station is bigger and better than its predecessor.
“The building is about the same size as the old Wilbur station,” Elbon said. “But the Booth Ranch facility has a lot more space to park trucks.
“The additional space allows our enforcement officers to perform more truck inspections and complete more safety checks than we could before.”
The northbound and southbound Booth Ranch weigh stations are the two located on I-5 between Oregon’s ports of entry in Ashland and Woodburn.
“It is a great location,” Elbon said. “We have quite a bit of traffic. Having the two scales near each other is helpful, whereas before we had a 18-mile gap between the northbound and southbound scales. It is nice to have that option.”
According to ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division Safety Program Manager David McKane, the division is responsible for training and certifying the more than 500 inspectors at work in Oregon today.
The Booth Ranch weigh stations are staffed by Motor Carrier Enforcement Officers in the Roseburg office. According to Elbon, the Roseburg crew also staffs weigh stations on Oregon 42, Oregon 138E, and U.S. 101, covering both Douglas and Coos counties.
“Our priority is Booth Ranch,” Elbon said. “These stations are our hubs and so the public will see they operate most of the week.”