Kirtland Road which runs from Interstate 5 to White City will be widened and connected to Highway 140 as part of the Oregon Department of Transportation plan to pull traffic away from Highway 62. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell photo - Bob Pennell

Road work ahead

The Oregon Department of Transportation is waiting for the OK from local cities before it starts a $14.6 million spate of road and highway improvement projects throughout Southern Oregon.

Among the projects is an ambitious plans to reshape Kirtland Road in White City.

ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said the road sees a steady line of freight trucks moving over it on a daily basis, which is a problem because it was not built to handle this type of traffic.

"You see problems there because it was not designed for these commercial freight haulers," Leaming said. "The lanes aren't wide enough and there are some issues with unprotected left turns and narrow shoulders."

The plan calls for the road to be widened, with two travel lanes separated by a turn lane. The shoulders also would be extended to include paths for bicycles and pedestrians.

Intersections along the road would be improved, with turn lanes added at Highbanks and Antelope Roads. Turn lanes also will be added at Leigh Way and Agate Road.

Another goal is to connect the Bear Creek Greenway to the Blackwell Road underpass. Leaming said this will make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to access the Greenway from White City and Central Point.

The total cost for the project is $4.9 million, according to ODOT.

Another major project is scheduled for Lozier Lane in west Medford.

ODOT wants to widen the road and provide shoulders for cyclists and pedestrians. The $7.5 million project will receive a large matching fund from Jackson County and the City of Medford. The road runs through city and county land, said John Vial, director of Jackson County parks and roads (attribution corrected).

The road is heavily used by commuters, but features little shoulder for pedestrians. The problems on the road became apparent last August when a motorist struck a group of juveniles walking in the 500 block of Lozier Lane.

Three of the juveniles suffered serious injuries in the crash and the driver was sent to prison for felony hit-and-run.

"I've seen people in motorized wheelchairs going down the middle of a traffic lane on Lozier Lane," Vial said (attribution corrected). "That's not a safe situation and we need to do better there."

The city and county will throw in approximately $6.7 million toward the project.

Other proposed projects include extending East Nevada Street in Ashland and upgrades to the Twin Creek Rail Crossing in Central Point.

The projects are scheduled to begin in the next biennium beginning in 2015.

ODOT hopes to receive approval soon from the government agencies involved. The projects were presented to the Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation on Aug. 13. The commission took the projects into consideration and will reconvene in September to give a final recommendation to the Oregon Transportation Commission for approval of state funds (process corrected).

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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