Pine Street medians will be modified

CENTRAL POINT — A median installed as part of improvements to Pine Street four years ago will be partly removed this summer after residents and business owners complained it confused drivers and led to near crashes.

The unpopular median, wider at one end than the other, will be narrowed and pavement stripes that forced motorists into a sudden merge between First and Second streets will be repainted to make an easier transition, the City Council decided last week.

The work will be done as soon as a contractor can be hired, city officials said.

The change is a short-term solution while city officials and a special ad hoc committee work toward long-range plans for Pine Street and Highway 99, said Deputy Public Works Director Chris Clayton.

"There's obviously been a lot of discussion, for Pine Street, about three lanes versus four lanes and we think it's going to be some time before a plan is decided on," Clayton said.

Clayton said city officials will allow two westbound lanes of traffic to ease congestion in front of Ray's Food Place.

Resident Craig Nelson, lead cheese maker at the nearby Rogue Creamery, said the area slated for modification has been confusing and a safety concern.

"You end up with people in one lane who don't know what to do because they have to turn but wanted to go straight "¦ and people in one lane don't want to give the right of way," Nelson said.

"It's not well-marked so it can get pretty confusing."

Grange Co-Op spokesman Bill Christie, a member of the ad hoc committee, said he wouldn't miss the daily "near-misses" and angry drivers trying to maneuver the stretch of road.

Christie said local business owners remain eager for a long-term solution.

"That's been a big mess and it continues to be a big mess. Yesterday, there by Ray's where it converges to the one lane, I was in the right lane and the lady in front of me all of a sudden decides she doesn't want to turn so she was waving her arms and shaking her head," Christie said with a laugh.

"I thought to myself, 'I know exactly what she's saying right now.'"

Clayton said the cost for the modifications will come out of the city's streets budget.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

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