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: