Medford council gives thumbs up to bigger Wal-Mart

Medford City Council today approved a development agreement with Wal-Mart that sets street improvement requirements for the corporation's plan to expand its north Medford store on Crater Lake Highway into a Supercenter.

As a Supercenter, the store would offer groceries in addition to its current array of general merchandise. The building would expand from 127,000 square feet to more than 150,000 square feet. A timeline for completing the project has not yet been set, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said.

The development agreement requires Wal-Mart as a part of its expansion to contribute right-of-way, easements and $474,000 toward construction of a segment of the Owen Drive-Coker Butte Road improvement project.

The $10 million road project is meant to dilute traffic congestion on Highway 62, gateway to some of Medford's largest retail centers as well as to Crater Lake National Park.

Plans call for connecting Owen from Springbrook Road across Highway 62 to Lear Way, taking some pressure off the congested Delta Waters Road-Highway 62 intersection.

Currently running parallel to the highway, Crater Lake Avenue will be realigned to the east at Owen and Coker Butte, providing more of a queuing distance on the avenue for drivers approaching Highway 62 and pulling the avenue's intersections away from the highway intersections. Crosswalks and traffic signals will be added to both the Owen and Coker Butte intersections.

Construction of the road improvements is tentatively set for summer 2009.

— Paris Achen

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