A construction project for the Merlin interchange at Interstate 5 Exit 61 cleared its biggest hurdle last month, successfully completing a five-day closure of the northbound off-ramp on time before the official start of the summer travel season.
The $2.2 million project is making safety and operational improvements to the rural interchange, specifically the I-5 off-ramp and local roadways connected to the interchange. JRT Construction LLC of Oakland, Oregon is the project’s prime contractor.
“The closure to rebuild the off-ramp should be the biggest inconvenience to travelers, but it was necessary to build a dual left-turn lane,” said ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk.
That five-day closure will be the project’s only full closure. For the summer, travelers can expect intermittent delays and 24-hour flagging at the Merlin/Monument Drive intersection as work focuses on the roadway and traffic signals.
The project is designed to end back-ups on the northbound off-ramp that nearly extend back to the I-5 travel lanes as well as provide needed safety improvements for the next 20 years of operation.
“Merlin is still very much a rural interchange but the higher traffic volumes now warrant a traffic signal,” said Paselk. “These safety improvements will reduce the frequency and length of backups on the northbound Exit 61 off-ramp.”
An open house was held at Fleming Middle School to address concerns about the impact on summer tourism along the Rogue River.
“With a few exceptions, folks were appreciative of the planned work with the closure and the need for improvements to the interchange,” said Paselk.
The Merlin interchange project website is www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION3/Pages/I-5-Exit-61.aspx.