A virtual meeting for the South Stage Extension Plan was held Jan. 31

MEDFORD, Ore.- A virtual meeting for the South Stage Extension Plan was held January 31st.

The City of Medford and ODOT are working on a plan to reduce traffic congestion on the South Medford and Phoenix interchanges. The January 31st meeting was to start identifying a roadmap for what the best course of action will be to enhance east-west connectivity.

Mark Butorac is with Kittelson & Associates, a transportation consulting firm retained by ODOT and Medford. He says whether they decide upon an overpass, interchange or otherwise, the Southern Oregon area is growing, and transportation needs to be more accessible.

“What we see over the next twenty years is approximately 5 thousand more people living in this area,” Butorac said, “The City of Medford’s projected to grow by about 30 thousand people by 2045 and the City of Phoenix is to grow by about 700 people in that same period, so a lot of growth”.

Butorac says not only is transit access lacking in between the Phoenix and South Medford exits, but pedestrian and bicycle access as well.  He says with some kind of east-west connection between Exit 24 and 27, emergency response times would be quicker, travel times would be reduced, leading to less air pollution, and crash rates might decrease. But he says there may be challenges they’ll have to face if they want to make an overpass or interchange work.

There are lots of constraints, obviously existing,” Butorac said, “We have a lot of topography out here from kind of the edge of Rock Creek to the southbound travel lanes of i-5 right here. There’s about a 25ft vertical difference”.

Right now, the best solution option is still being decided upon an they’re still taking suggestions. Once a plan of action has been picked, the City of Medford and the Oregon Transportation Commission will start working on a conceptual design.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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