Responsibility for a four-mile stretch of Highway 62 could be shifted to the county and Medford under a deal in which the Oregon Department of Transportation would provide a one-time payment to offset maintenance costs. - Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell

Fair exchange on Highway 62

Jackson County and the city of Medford are closing in on a deal with the state to accept ownership of a four-mile section of Highway 62 once a bypass road is built.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has$125 million dedicated for the entire project.

"If Jackson County is going to take over this section of highway, we want to be reimbursed for the amount needed for the maintenance," said John Vial, director of the county Roads and Parks Department.

The county would take over a 1.1-mile section of Highway 62 from Dillon Way to Corey Road. In preliminary discussions with ODOT, the county could receive a one-time payment of about $1 million to help offset maintenance costs.

The city of Medford, which would take over 2.8 miles, could receive a one-time payment of about$2.9 million, based on preliminary discussions.

Cory Crebbin, Medford's public works director, said the city wanted to make sure that it was receiving enough money to handle maintenance costs after the road becomes its responsibility.

"ODOT has tried to be fair," he said. "I have to give them credit for that."

Initially, Medford and county officials balked at taking over jurisdiction, unsure how much traffic the bypass would take off Highway 62. They also were concerned about how much it would cost to maintain the highway. ODOT estimates about 50 percent of the traffic on Highway 62 would shift to the bypass.

Crebbin said the city hopes ODOT is correct in its analysis that a majority of the truck traffic, which causes the most wear and tear on the highway, would migrate to the bypass.

ODOT wants to build a 3.5-mile expressway that would start just east of Poplar Drive in Medford, roughly follow the old Medco Haul Road and then reconnect with Highway 62 south of White City near Corey Road. A bridge without any off-ramps would be built over Vilas Road.

Art Anderson, ODOT area manager, said the money that would be given to the city and county should cover maintenance costs for 20 years, based on ODOT's maintenance schedule.

The jurisdiction of the roadway won't be turned over to the city and county until both phases of the bypass project are completed, he said.

During the first phase, the bypass will take off just east of Poplar Drive and end at Vilas Road. That section of the bypass will not be opened until the second phase is completed.

Anderson said the project should start by the summer of 2013.

"Things are moving smoothly, and we are on track to bid Phase 1 by 2012," he said.

The project has to start by 2013 to take advantage of$100 million in state funding.

The second phase, which will be from Vilas to Corey, will start about the time the first phase is finished.

Anderson said the entire project could take up to four years, concluding possibly in 2017.

He said ODOT has conducted appraisals and has begun negotiations to establish rights of way for the four-lane bypass highway.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail

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