Plans for 'Flying J' fly out the window

Plans for 'Flying J' fly out the window

GOLD HILL — Plans for a Flying J truck plaza at one of the valley's quieter interchange ramps are virtually dead in the water after a meeting with state and local agencies, property owners and representatives for the company.

While the project could bring up to $12 million in infrastructure improvements and up to 120 jobs to the rural area, interchange accessibility and a lack of water and sewer services at the site have rendered the proposal a nonstarter.

Property owner Frank Goddard, who owns 11 of the two dozen acres Flying J had proposed to purchase, said the project presented more hurdles than the company, or he, could effectively tackle without local and state support.

"Flying J would move in there tomorrow and start construction if the hurdles weren't there, but they're talking about something like $5-30 million for a new overpass," said Goddard. "I felt like here was an opportunity coming in for the city to have some jobs and revenue. Flying J's are very well managed truck plazas "¦ this would be a tremendous thing for Gold Hill. It would make that area."

Dick Converse, the city's contract planner from the Rogue Valley Council of Governments said he anticipated the project being a difficult sell but that the economic boost would certainly paint a bright financial picture for the area.

"Unfortunately, it was sort of as I'd suspected. The biggest concern, and there were many, was the issue of interchange access," Converse said. "The various agencies involved were basically indicating they could not see how a truck plaza of any size could work there without complete reconstruction of the interchange, which is tens of millions of dollars."

Converse said transportation officials estimated that such a project would require anticipation of some 1,500 trucks daily.

Dawni Hall, owner of Dardanelles community store, said this week she was relieved the project stalled with state finances stretched tight and the interchange already an issue for cars and trucks, much less semis.

"That kind of project would entail so much in changing the overpass design," she said. "The (Land Conservation and Development Commission) and (Department of Transportation) were absolutely right in saying no, that it's not the right time for Oregon to do those things right now."

Goddard said Flying J had "already started to back off" on even a smaller version of the project that would likely require major changes to the overpass. He was frustrated to see potential jobs passed by.

"I think someone should look at the economic impacts this could have for the area," said Goddard, who could profit from the sale of his land if the Flying J project advanced with state support for a new interchange. "They say they are hurting for jobs, well here's an opportunity that's about to get away. Somebody needs to get involved that could put pressure on the state to put that overpass in place. They're doing Upton Road and I don't see where it's needed "¦ you can't just buy 120 jobs overnight."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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