Motorist questions need for childless school zone questioned

We built our home on China Gulch Road in 1980 and have traversed Highway 238 between Ruch and Medford literally thousands of times.

For the past 10 years, my wife has gone into Providence Medford Medical Center for therapy on Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving home about 8:10 a.m. The school zone light is on, but there are no students. In the 28-plus years we have been here we have never once seen a student or pedestrian in the vicinity of that school zone.

Now I believe school zones are a good thing and I always slow to the 20 mph required during school hours and I have no problem with that. But this has to be the most ridiculous school zone regulation in the state of Oregon. Can you give me one good reason why that short piece of highway had a school zone placed on it?

— Wayne Ramey, Jacksonville

This school zone has some history behind it, and because it's on a state highway I thought I'd contact someone more intimately acquainted with the details, that being John Vial, formerly of ODOT, but now head of the Jackson County Road Department.

His response: The school makes a request to ODOT for the school zone, but ODOT has the final say for state highways. The reason this school zone was kept is:

  • It meets the definition in the law of a school zone.
  • Congestion caused by numerous vehicles coming and going to pick up and drop off students.
  • Congestion caused by the buses.
  • While the writer sees no kids present now, there is still the potential, and during the warmer days you will see an occasional kid riding his or her bike to school.

I hope this helps. If you want all the detailed reasoning (traffic counts, warrants, etc.), call Robert Sechler, 541-957-3500, in Roseburg. He has the full file in his office.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or e-mail

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