Proposed 'road diet' between Phoenix and Talent

, Written by Jennifer Elliott, Posted: Wed, January 29 2014 at 3:49 PM, Updated: Wed, January 29 2014 at 3:55 PM

Oregon Department of Transportation wants to give Highway 99 a potentially controversial facelift.    

"When you look at all this traffic I think you do need all 4 lanes," says Mary Pope. She lives on the stretch of Highway 99 where ODOT is proposing a 'road diet' from the end of Phoenix to Talent. It would mean eliminating two of the four lanes. Then they would add a center turn lane and bike lanes on a more substantial shoulder. It's similar to North Ashland's recent re-striping.

Fourteen year Talent resident Tiffany Odlin says she isn't convinced, "I think it's going to be a mess, make it any smaller just makes it more congested."

One of the concerns is that commuters on this stretch would get stuck behind other travelers going well below the speed limit, so we decided to test out the idea. We drove the stretch five times, each way, without passing. Four of the ten trips our progress was slowed.

"You know everyone is always in a hurry... but safety first," says Bridget Davies. She works at a business on Highway 99.

Safety is exactly why ODOT's Ian Horlacher says they're suggesting a center turn lane, "What can we do to make it safer?"

Biker Ian Bagshaw thinks the idea is great. He bikes 99 often and has a business on the road too. "I think it's fantastic," says Bagshaw.

The 'road diet' is just part of the proposal. Bike lanes would be added from Charlotte Ann Road in South Medford to Oak Street in Phoenix, without losing traffic lanes. There would also be new signage for the Greenway and sidewalks in some areas.

"I think it's great for cyclist to get bike lanes," continues Bagshaw.

Despite the word "diet," the project cost's aren't skinny. ODOT explains the work would be around 6 to 7 million dollars.

"You'll have traffic backed up," says Odlin.

While parts of a 'road diet' may be hard for some to swallow, others say it goes down just fine.

"A center turn lane makes it a lot less stressful," says Bagshaw.

ODOT says they want to know what the community thinks about the proposal. The entire plan is posted online at:

Also, you can contact ODOT Planner Ian Horlacher at 541-423-1362 or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Jennifer Elliott

Jennifer Elliott anchors the primetime newscast FOX26 First News at Ten on NBC5’s partner station, KMVU/FOX26. She also reports for NBC5 News.

Jennifer began her career at NBC5 News in 2011 as a production assistant. Raised in Southern Oregon, she studied voice and piano while attending South Medford High School.

After graduating from Brigham Young University-Idaho, she returned home and added organ playing to her music repertoire. In addition to her musical talents, Jennifer is an award winning artist.

She has also co-hosted Southern Oregon’s Got Talent, the area’s premiere talent show. Jennifer is married and the mother of two young sons who keep her busy and very happy.

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