“Do those signs and directions really mean anything?” says a question posted recently by the Jackson County Roads Department on its website.
The question was spurred by a May incident in which a driver drove a pickup into a closed lane in a Table Rock Road work zone and wound up getting stuck in a trench across the road.
The vehicle had been stopped by a flagger, but when the driver got the go-ahead to proceed, he traveled into the closed or “dead lane,” until getting stuck, according to John Vial, county roads department director. Nobody got hurt, but someone had been working in the trench when the vehicle got stuck.
Last Friday, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department responded to the same work zone for a similar incident, but this time a work zone flagger was injured.
According to police, Martin Ward Noland of Central Point drove past a flagger after he reportedly “expressed irritation with the traffic control in the construction zone.” Noland allegedly struck the flagger in the leg and ran over the stop sign being held, and continued past a second flagger before being forced to stop because of a construction vehicle in the road, police said.
Noland was arrested and booked in the Jackson County Jail after police spotted him a short time later at the intersection of Hamrick and Biddle roads. The case has been referred to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, though no updates were found in court records Monday.
County transportation officials say both incidents have a common theme: When it comes to construction zones, know what you’re getting into.
Vial says signs indicating delays of up to 20 minutes are posted in the Table Rock Road construction zone, which runs between Biddle Road and Interstate 5, and drivers should expect nothing less, he says.
“If you choose to go down Table Rock and you get a delay, the only person you have to be upset with is yourself,” Vial says. “There are ways around it. If you are expecting to wait a while, when you do, it’s not so frustrating.”
Other Jackson County construction zones can be found along East Main Street in Ashland, Lozier Lane between West Main Street to Stewart Avenue, and along various stretches of Highway 62.
State highway construction is in full summer swing, too. Whether it’s construction of sidewalks and bike lanes between Ashland and Talent, slide repairs on the Old Siskiyou Highway, or the new expressway off Highway 62, there are plenty of orange cones to be found on state highways and I-5.
On Thursday, a particularly elaborate operation will begin on the I-5 viaduct, where crews will prepare a concrete overlay on the structure’s bridge deck. Speeds will be reduced from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., prompting drivers to slow from 55 mph to 40 mph, with an advisory speed of 35 mph posted in the work zone.
Viaduct work will be followed by work on the Barnett Road bridge, which runs over the freeway.
“This is prime road construction season,” says Gary Leaming, Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman.
Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at email@example.com or at 541-776-4468.