Since You Asked: No charge to block sidewalks

When contractors, such as the one presently building around the Evergreen parking structure, take over and close public streets and sidewalks, do they have to pay rent to the city of Medford? What special permits are needed to allow private contractors to close public streets and sidewalks?

— Larry S., Jacksonville

Before we get down to the nuts and bolts, as well as brass tacks, of the building in question, officially known as One West Main, we here at Since You Asked should remind the questioner that the city fathers — and mothers — have been dying to get the long-overdue Bella Vita project done.

Medford City Engineer Larry Beskow explained the circuitous route followed by the general contractor, in this case Adroit Construction of Ashland, to close off lanes and streets surrounding the four-story, 116,599-square-foot building.

"If a contractor needs to construct something, and they have to occupy a lane or two lanes, they typically submit a traffic control, and detours if required," Beskow said. "If they can do a reasonable detour without affecting traffic too much, we'll close the street for a certain time."

When it came to One West Main, it meant hauling in lots of material and erecting a crane. That meant closing down Fir Street between Main and Eighth streets, as well as blocking the north lane on Eighth. That was because the roof of the parking structure couldn't support the weight of the crane.

"The building goes property line to property line on all sides, so there was nowhere to put crane or material except public right of way," Beskow said.

"They had to occupy the street to set the beam."

If Main Street had been in question, he said, it would have required a different solution.

"Fir Street has pretty light traffic," Beskow said. "We could close Fir without affecting the public too much."

Other than the usual list of permit and system development fees, the city doesn't charge for use of the streets and sidewalks.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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