By Art Anderson, Area Manager of the Rogue Valley
Autumn is typically the end of the transportation construction season in Oregon. In Ashland, it signals an end to more than two years of bridge replacement and rehabilitation at the Interstate 5 exit 14 and 19 interchanges.
These two projects made needed improvements to both interchanges. These projects were the first major work on the bridges since the interstate was originally built. Each improvement will last for generations, providing local drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists a safer transportation experience in Ashland.
I want to extend a special thank you to the Aesthetics Advisory Committee, a nine-member group comprised of Ashland stakeholders who ensured these bridges reflect the local style that makes this community unique. The exit 14 bridge brings out artistic treatments that echo the historic architecture, the Art Deco theme and the natural environment highly prized in downtown Ashland. The Ashland I-5 interchanges now stand as an impressive gateway for northbound visitors to our state.
These projects also have seen their share of challenges. The poor condition of the bridge deck at exit 14 turned what started out as a simple rehabilitation into a deck replacement project. We negotiated with prime contractor Concrete Enterprises of Stayton, Ore., for a change order and an extended construction schedule.
The project’s change order and revised schedule led to several nights of construction noise for the south Ashland neighborhood last spring as a specialty contractor was brought in to remove the original deck using high pressure water. Please accept my apology for that inconvenience. One of our goals is to minimize construction impacts; another is to make the wisest investment of public dollars. I’m confident these transportation improvements will stand the test of time.
We worked with the contractor on other minor construction challenges, including coloring on the concrete sidewalks and the type of traffic signals. For the project duration, we’ve dedicated Dennis Steers, our regional public liaison, to keeping local businesses and stakeholders informed of the project developments. Communication is the key to a successful partnership.
Our projects aren’t always perfect. However, we hold both our contractors and project office accountable for the investments we make in Oregon’s transportation infrastructure. We take our business relationships seriously and we value our relationship with Rogue Valley communities.
On behalf of our agency, I want to thank you — Ashland motorists, pedestrians, local business owners and stakeholders — for your patience and understanding as we wrap up the Ashland bridge projects this year. We appreciate your patience, your understanding and, most importantly, your continued support.
About Art Anderson
Prior to working with ODOT, Art Anderson served 20 years as a Civil Engineering Air Force officer. As Area Manager for the Rogue Valley for the past decade, Art manages state highway construction projects in Josephine and Jackson counties. He represents ODOT as a member of the Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation.
The Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation was charted in 1997 by the Oregon Transportation Commission. RVACT address all aspects of transportation (surface, marine, air, and transportation safety) with primary focus on the state transportation system. The advisory body considers regional and local transportation issues if they affect the state system. RVACT plays a key advisory role in the development of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which schedules funded transportation projects. RVACT establishes a public process for area project selection priorities for the STIP. Through that process and following adopted project eligibility criteria, it prioritizes transportation problems and solutions and recommends projects in its area are to be included in the STIP.