Time to rectify: I-5/Highway 62 proposal forced by poor planning in the past
July 28, 2000
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the traffic mess at the Interstate 5/Highway 62 interchange at Medford’s north end is bad enough that fixing it will require destruction of at least three major businesses, loss of direct access to 62 for others, and a bill totaling millions of dollars.
This is the outcome of decades of poor planning that left the interchange a bottleneck and travel on Highway 62 to White City a deadly game of bumper cars.
It is the same process that left Medford with but two I-5 interchanges — north and south — and incredibly, none close to downtown. It’s the same process that brought us the Medford viaduct, the unsightly bridge over downtown that now is proving to be an additional roadblock to realigning roads in that congested area or at either of the crowded interchanges.
The most astonishing growth has been at the confusing Highway 62 interchange. Traffic engineers have looked at 50 scenarios for realigning the interchange (yes, 50) and boiled them down to alternatives that will connect to 62 with the least business impact possible.
But that may strike the death knell for Denny’s, International House of Pancakes and the Best Western Pony Soldier motel complex. That’s too bad for these longtime businesses, but the buyout compensations no doubt will be large enough to allow them to rebuild elsewhere if they desire.
The trio’s access to the confusing nest of roadways that surrounds them now is bad to worse. The businesses weren’t sounding all that unhappy about the possible demolition in a recent story on the interchange plan.
Construction of the new interchange is not expected to begin until the summer of 2003, so the state and federal governments still have plenty of time to fine tune a plan that makes sense and uses the $22 million available for the interchange the best way possible.
Highway 62 is not only a necessary link to the business, industry and homes of the White City area; it also is an important connector to highways that serve Central and Eastern Oregon, as well as Crater Lake National Park and other recreation areas in the Cascades.
So fixing it up — correcting the problems created by the poor planning of the past — is necessary to the prosperity of the greater Medford area.
Let’s be sure that today’s planners don’t leave problems for tomorrow’s, as did their predecessors. Put in your 2 cents’ worth as the process continues to unfold.
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