With several construction milestones achieved this past summer, the Oregon 62 Expressway project reached the halfway point last month as the second construction season winds down.
The $120 million project will increase capacity and improve safety along the Oregon 62 corridor, a critical business connection for commercial freight, tourism and commuters from Medford to destinations east.
The project builds a 4.5-mile, four-lane expressway that will connect near Interstate 5 Exit 30 and diverge from the Crater Lake Highway southeast of the Medford Airport. The new expressway will extend north, cross over Coker Butte and Vilas Roads via an overpass, and connect at a signalized intersection with the existing highway near Corey Road.
The new four-lane expressway road surface will take shape later this month as prime contractor Knife River Materials begins the first concrete pour.
Asphalt requires warmer temperatures and a specific paving window to meet ODOT specifications. Concrete can be poured during more moderate temperatures so long as the temperature stays above freezing.
“We expect the concrete expressway will perform well with our southern Oregon weather,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. “We should get decades of maintenance-free use from the concrete.”
Last month, the contractor set 14 beams across the directional interchange at the south end of the project. According to Knife River Materials Project Manager Tyler Douglas, the plan is to place westbound traffic from Delta Waters Road to Poplar Drive onto the new bridge by year end.
This past summer, Prime contractor Knife River Materials:
• Completed the new Coker Butte Road crossing, opening traffic to International Way and the properties located on the eastern side of the Medford Airport;
• Realigned Crater Lake Avenue at the project’s north end with a new outlet at Fowler Lane; and
• Built new culverts at North and South Swanson Creeks.
A legion of heavy equipment is busy on the main road alignments north and south of Vilas Road where a new overpass is being constructed. Douglas said he anticipates setting beams across Vilas Road by November.
“We’re in a race now to get as much dirt work accomplished before the wet season,” said Douglas.
For the most part, Crater Lake Highway travel lanes have not been affected by the construction work and the little that has affected traffic was limited to the nighttime schedules. Construction staging has required some lane restrictions, including the eastbound lane near the Delta Waters Road intersection and the eastbound lane across from Fred Meyer on Oregon 62.