Winter construction work on the Oregon 62 Expressway project focuses on completing the new directional interchange located across from Hubbard’s Hardware as well as setting beams and completing the bridge deck at Vilas Road.
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 $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.
Miles of Concrete
More than nine miles of concrete road surface has been poured already, which is about a third of what is needed to complete the project. A portable concrete plant is stationed off Helo Drive, providing prime contractor Knife River Materials a quick trip to the work zone.
“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.”
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;
• Completed realignment of Crater Lake Avenue at the project’s north end with a new outlet at Fowler Lane; and
• Built new storm water detention and culverts at North and South Swanson Creeks.
Signs directing motorists to move their vehicles off the highway after a fender bender-type crash are making a difference along the Oregon 62 corridor, according to ODOT Assistant District Manager Jeremiah Griffin.
“We’ve seen an improved response from citizens, law enforcement, fire and tow operators,” said Griffin. “First responders are quick to think about moving the vehicle to get the road open and traffic moving in a congested construction zone.”
Oregon law requires you to stop after a minor collision and pull out of any driving lanes, even if the traffic behind you is stopped. This is to avoid a secondary collision, as well as to not impede traffic flow.
“Minor crashes are defined as when the vehicles are drivable and the people are without injuries,” said Griffin. “Motorists are required to move their vehicles, either to the highway shoulder or to a nearby parking lot, and away from the travel lanes.”
If you are the front car in a collision, motion to the other driver to follow you to a close place where there’s room for both of you to pull over safely. If you’re on the shoulder, stay as far away from moving cars as possible while you assess damage and exchange insurance information.
Safety concerns rapidly increase as the stopped vehicles in a fender bender affect traffic along the corridor and cross streets all the way back to the I-5 interchange and off-ramps.
“The likelihood of a secondary crash increases with each passing minute,” said Griffin.
Fortunately, fender benders are the least serious and most common type of crashes reported along the corridor. Even before construction began several intersections along the Oregon 62 corridor between Delta Waters Road and Interstate 5 had higher than normal crash rates.
RVTD Manager Julie Brown cited another advantage of the new Oregon 62 expressway for transit riders could be a Bus Rapid Transit route from a Park-and-Ride in the White City area to or near downtown Medford.
“Better access through sidewalks, the possibilities of Park-and-Rides for commuters, and the addition of signal priority will help us get back on schedule,” said Brown.
Signal prioritization allows bus drivers, when running behind due to congestion, to change upcoming traffic signals to the green phase, thus putting them back on schedule and reducing time the bus sits in traffic.
“I see the expressway helping to alleviate congestion,” said Brown. “Signal prioritization will help transit deliver services on time.”
To build the 4.5 mile expressway takes soil and building materials such as concrete and steel. Here’s a quick look at some of those quantities for the new roadway from Poplar Drive to Corey Road:
461,000 cubic yards of soil moved, enough to fill a football field 216 feet deep;
45,300 cubic yards of concrete in roadway – 25.7 lane miles 12 feet wide; and
233 tons of two-inch steel rebar – 126.5 miles, enough to travel from Medford to Eugene.