A popular stretch of Agate Road that intersects with Highway 62 in White City was permanently closed Monday to make way for a new $125 million bypass that is under construction.
"This is where the bypass will come to an end," said Gary Leaming, ODOT spokesman.
From now on, motorists will need to use Leigh Way, which is slightly to the north next to Coastal Farm Supply, to access Agate Road. In the future, motorists heading south on Agate from Leigh will find themselves entering the new bypass route.
Knife River has begun major work where old Agate and Highway 62 merged that will take place over the remainder of the year.
A ditch is being dug for a three-foot-diameter storm pipe under Highway 62 over the next week at night, restricting traffic to one lane in either direction.
Over the year, Crater Lake Avenue, Corey Road and other nearby streets will be altered to improve traffic flow around the new entrance and exit from the 4.5-mile bypass, which will start at Poplar Drive in Medford. Corey Road will no longer have direct access to Highway 62 once the work is completed.
A traffic signal will be installed at the new intersection of the bypass and Highway 62, almost where the current Agate Road meets the highway.
Leaming said ODOT has been concerned about the current intersection of Agate and Highway 62 because it has seen a number of crashes over the years.
Once the four-lane bypass is complete, it should relieve the congestion on the highway through Medford.
Highway 62 at Delta Waters Road is the busiest intersection in southwestern Oregon, and traffic counts on Highway 62 are higher than those on Interstate 5 north of Medford.
The bypass generally will run along the Old Medco Haul Road. The route will parallel Highway 62, which is to the east.
The state Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009 provided $100 million toward the project, with the remainder coming from other state and federal dollars. More than $7 million was required for the environmental analysis alone.