'Non-diet' road work still set for East Main

A few months ago, we heard that Medford was planning to get rid of some traffic lanes on East Main Street. I haven't seen anything new on that lately but noticed they have put in a new traffic signal at Hawthorne and wondered if that is part of the "road diet" plan?

— Joe W., Medford

Say it's so, Joe, say it's so. Yes, indeed, the city has announced plans for reducing the traffic lanes on East Main to one each way, with a center turn lane and bike lanes, between the Hawthorne Street/Almond Street intersection to the west and Willamette Avenue to the east.

You also get to chalk up some points for your perceptive recognition of the changing traffic light at the west end of the project. The new light isn't in use yet but will be when the project goes live.

And that's expected to happen in the not too distant future, according to Medford Public Works Director Cory Crebbin, who says the lane-changing restriping will begin after some pavement maintenance is performed in September.

The city sent out letters in January to property owners along the roughly half-mile stretch of East Main, informing them of the plan. The city had previously made similar changes to Fourth and 10th streets.

When the work is done, there will be a single lane of traffic in each direction, a center turn lane and turn lanes to intersecting streets, plus bike lanes on both sides of the street. The new traffic light at Hawthorne and Almond streets will add a left-turn signal.

FYI, Joe, don't call it a "road diet" plan around city traffic folks. They avoid the term like the plague, probably because it raised a stink when it was put in place on Ashland's North Main Street. The change there, by the way, seems to have been well-accepted, with fewer accidents reported and an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists.

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