Much has changed since Gary Lollar started on the Grants Pass landscape crew in 1982. A second-generation ODOT employee, Gary will soon retire from his role as the Central Point maintenance manager with 35 years of service to the state of Oregon.
Lollar’s Central Point maintenance section encompasses a big chunk of the Rogue Valley, including Interstate 5 from Rogue River south to Phoenix, 20 miles of Oregon 62 from Medford to Trail, the entire length of Oregon 234, and every mile of Oregon 140 and 238 located in Jackson County.
The high traffic volumes on Crater Lake Highway and I-5, especially on the Medford viaduct, make regular maintenance operations a challenge.
“When I started, it was relatively safe to go out and work on the interstate,” said Lollar. “Nowadays, there’s no safe time without traffic control measures.”
Lollar said improvements to maintenance equipment and communication tools like digital radios and cell phones have made a significant difference for maintenance operations.
“TripCheck is a good tool all the way around,” said Lollar. “We use it to notify the public of traffic congestion or chain requirements when the weather changes on the Siskiyous
or in the valley.”
The Central Point crew can mount plows on 10-yard dump trucks when the need arises. Lollar said the facility had two radios and a small fleet of trucks — none with a snow plow — when he first joined the agency.
Among all the work he’s been involved with over the past three and a half decades, Lollar said the fish passage projects stand out as some of the most satisfying.
“I had no idea how easily attainable fish habitat could be made just by a relatively inexpensive repair of the elevation and structure of box culverts in Rogue basin streams,” said Lollar. “We started through the process and, all of a sudden, we got fish coming up through. It was pretty impressive.
“Those were really good projects because you got to work with a whole lot of different people and see the process from the beginning to the finished product.”
Lollar’s retirement plans should come as no surprise.
“I plan on spending more time getting outside and going fishing,” said Lollar.