Seems pretty obvious that two lanes are needed for right turns coming off the freeway onto Highland Drive turning east (toward Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center) onto Barnett Road. There is no need for two lanes continuing straight on Highland. Also, Highland southbound at Barnett should be one lane left only, one straight and one right only. Currently, it's one left only, one straight and one straight or right turn.
— Jim D., Medford
The Oregon Department of Transportation is aware that morning traffic coming off Interstate 5 backs up as it turns onto Barnett heading toward the hospital. But making a major change is probably not in the works anytime soon, says ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming, because the issue is largely confined to a relatively short window of time, during the morning rush hour.
"Much of the problem is due to the traffic heading toward the hospital, the medical/dental offices, schools and businesses — and it’s a very short spike, only 15 minutes," Leaming wrote in an email.
He said even with a dual right turn, traffic would still back up quickly on Barnett because of the street's capacity and signals to the east.
But ODOT is not turning a deaf ear to the issue, says Leaming (who should be made an honorary member of the prestigious Since You Asked staff because of the quantity of questions he answers for us.)
He said the agency is looking at Transportation Demand Management (TDM), which "examines ways to change travel habits such as revising school and employer start time schedules, encouraging car or van pooling, and encouraging other options such as transit, bicycling or walking to ease congestion ... ."
He notes that there also is a morning traffic backup along Garfield Street heading west to Highway 99.
Those involved in the TDM study, which include Rogue Valley Transportation District, the city of Medford and Jackson County, are looking at "traffic generators" and low-cost ways to reduce the morning crunch, he says.
"Changing the turn lanes at Highland may sound simple, but there would still be a delay due to Barnett Road constrictions," Leaming says. "Construction would be more expensive. We’re looking at some low-cost solutions before we would look to modify the intersection."
As for southbound Highland, our experience while riding in the Since You Asked limo is that the two lanes heading toward the freeway make it easier for the traffic heading to I-5 to get on the appropriate side of the road early, rather than fighting for position as they make their way onto the interchange.
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