Foothill Road, which looks south from the intersection of East McAndrews Road in Medford, is being widened as part of a “mega corridor” project. [Mail Tribune/file photo]
The Medford City Council will move closer to carrying out the so-called “mega-corridor” plan on Thursday.
The “mega corridor” along Foothill Road in Medford is almost ready for construction.
Jackson County is willing to give the city $3.25 million to take over the Foothill property from Hillcrest Road to Delta Waters.
Although the Foothill portion is within the city limits, it is controlled by Jackson County.
The City Council is expected to approve the road crossing Thursday to prepare for a major widening project, with bids due Nov. 4 and work expected to begin in the spring of 2023.
Relocation of utilities has already begun on the Medford portion of the corridor, which will be built with $40 million in city, state and federal grants.
Construction is expected to last until 2026, causing potential delays for motorists in the area.
Once the council approves a resolution supporting the transfer of ownership, the county will hold a public hearing prior to the official transfer of the roadway, a process that has been in the works for years.
John Vial, the city’s director of Public Works, said, “We signed an agreement with the county in 2020.”
He said the city is contributing $20.5 million and the federal government is contributing another $15.5 million. That, along with the $3.25 million, brings him closer to $40 million.
Vial said the city has applied for a $5 million federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant that could cover the cost escalation.
“If there are additional costs above that amount, the city will be responsible for the rest,” Vial said, as he expressed concern about the current state of the construction industry, which has been hit hard by rising prices.
The city will convert the two-lane highway into a four-lane thoroughfare, with turning lanes and bike lanes.
Dubbed the city’s mega corridor, this project is a key part of an effort to turn the Foothill into an east-west route that will provide an alternative to Interstate 5, which could fail in an earthquake.
A collaboration between the Oregon Department of Transportation, Jackson County and Medford, the route will provide a shortcut from White City to Phoenix.
ODOT has already built two vital connections along the corridor, the North Phoenix Interchange and the 140 Freeway Large Roundabout.
In May, the City Council approves the last of the 60 purchases of rights of way to allow the expansion of the road to four lanes.
Some areas will not have the turn lane, especially when the roadway narrows through an electrical substation near Lone Pine Road. A pedestrian and bike lane that will be built in conjunction with the widening project to avoid the substation was also moved to the west. In addition to the sign at Cedar Links, the city plans to install a sign at the Foothill south exit ramp from McAndrews Road.
The widening will end north of Delta Waters Road, but Jackson County has plans to smooth out many of the sharper curves along Foothill with a minimum speed limit of 45 mph in some parts.
Medford has already extended the route south of Hillcrest Road to Barnett Road. Foothill becomes North Phoenix Road at the intersection with Hillcrest.
All the pieces of the mega-corridor project will cost about $130 million, including major parts already completed, from federal, state, county and city coffers.
As part of the Foothill Improvement Plan, the city plans to build an extension of South Stage Road on the east side of the freeway. Long-term plans call for an I-5 overpass to connect the west and east sections of South Stage Road.
Contact freelance writer Damian Mann at email@example.com.