South Medford High School student Chris Slater, 15, waits for construction workers to install some of the 3,000 feet of pipe that are being buried from King Street to Columbus. Garfield Street is being upgraded so it can be safely used by students going to the high school on Columbus. - Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell

One Step at a Time

A deep trench along Garfield Street is a daily reminder to residents that this west Medford thoroughfare finally is going to be made kid-friendly.

"When two cars are going by, it's hard to ride your bike or walk on this road," said 15-year-old Chris Slater, who was walking his bike through the construction zone Tuesday.

More than $3.5 million in work will take place along Garfield from Kings Highway to Columbus Avenue in the next six months, adding sidewalks, turn lanes and bike lanes.

Preliminary work to move sewer lines is under way in preparation for construction projects that will take place throughout the summer.

Carl Tappert, general manager for Rogue Valley Sewer Services, said his agency wanted to install new sewer lines before the new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and roadway are installed. The cost for the 3,000 feet of 12- and 15-inch lines is $570,000.

"The existing lines were old and outdated," he said.

Tappert said he's hoping Central Pipeline Inc. can complete the upgrade by the end of the month, despite setbacks such as a lot of groundwater that has seeped into the trenches.

In addition, the city awarded a $1 million contract to Central Pipeline of White City last week for the Peach Street to Kings Highway portion of the street.

The Oregon Department of Transportation on April 5 awarded a $2 million contract to Ledford Construction Co. of Medford for the Columbus Avenue to Peach portion of Garfield.

Money for the projects is coming from a combination of federal and state grants, as well as Medford street utility surcharges.

Julie Shelton, a 29-year-old mother of two, negotiated the construction site Tuesday while jogging with her two babies in a stroller.

Her house overlooks the 10-foot-deep trench that will allow Rogue Valley Sewer Services to upgrade its line.

She said dealing with the construction has been a minor inconvenience, but she's looking forward to the result.

"It's worth it," Shelton said. "Hopefully, it will fix the sinkholes."

The section of Garfield that runs past her house became more of a problem after the new South Medford High School was built on Columbus. The street has also become a major artery connecting west Medford to the south Medford interchange.

Roads typically fall under the jurisdiction of a city, county or state, but this stretch of road was private, so it was the responsibility of the residents who live next to it. For years it was a mess of potholes, with motorists trying to negotiate around bone-jarring craters.

Last year, the Medford City Council decided to perform a temporary paving project on the road after getting multiple citizen complaints. The city was not legally required to make the repairs, which cost $50,000 and were designed to last about two years.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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