The Oregon 62 Expressway project is shifting into its next phase, following another milestone last month as westbound traffic began driving on the new directional interchange constructed across from Hubbard’s Hardware, located between Delta Waters Road and the intersection of Poplar Drive and Bullock Road.
The $120 million project is designed to 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.
Prime contractor Knife River Materials is constructing a 4.5-mile, four-lane expressway that connects near Interstate 5 Exit 30 and diverges from the Crater Lake Highway southeast of the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport. The new expressway, which will be named the Rogue Valley Expressway (see page 6 for more details), extends north, spanning Coker Butte and Vilas roads, and connecting at a signalized intersection with Oregon 62 near Corey Road.
The project is on schedule for completion by the end of 2018. “The public will continue to see a lot of activity on the south end of the project,” said ODOT Project Information Specialist Gary Leaming. “The contractor is excavating the old Oregon 62 westbound lanes to align with the eastbound expressway.
“The contractor is also building the westbound ramp for access onto Whittle Road and setting the stage for final paving and striping later
Winter construction work focused on setting beams and completing the bridge deck that spans Vilas Road.
“The mild winter really helped the construction work,” said ODOT Project Manager Tim Fletcher. “Fortunately, some nights last month were mild enough to allow the contractor to tie in the intersection paving and get traffic moved over to the new directional interchange.”
Miles of Concrete
More than nine lane 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 will resume operations off Helo Drive again this summer, providing Knife River Materials a quick trip to the work zone near Vilas Road north to Corey Road.
“We expect the concrete will perform well in our southern Oregon weather,” said ODOT Area Manager Art Anderson. “We expect to get decades of maintenance-free use.”
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 Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport;
• Completed realignment of Crater Lake Avenue at the project’s north end with a new outlet at Fowler Lane;
• Built new storm water detention and culverts at North and South Swanson Creeks;
• Set bridge beams on the Vilas Road overcrossing; and
• Opened the new directional interchange to westbound traffic between Delta Waters Road and the intersection of Poplar Drive and Bullock Road.
ODOT and Knife River met with Medford-area emergency service representatives to share project information and examine response scenarios to potential traffic crashes in the work zone. The shared public safety goal is to remove vehicles blocking the travel lanes as soon as possible, reducing the likelihood of a secondary crash.
“We’re all on the same page when there’s a work zone crash,” said ODOT Assistant District Manager Jeremiah Griffin. “Getting a crash cleared as soon as possible will reduce the chance of a secondary crash and keep traffic moving. That corridor is so busy that any crash will quickly affect local streets and back up traffic to I-5.”
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.
“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.