Holiday road snarl isn't the city's fault

I am frustrated after trying to get across town for a short errand this week and wonder why the city let this situation occur. I was driving north on Riverside Avenue and planning to turn east on McAndrews. When I came up on the Lithia dealership there, cars were backed up beyond the point of where the right-turn lane began. Cars were also backed up on McAndrews as they tried to cross Riverside.

It probably took 15 minutes just to get to the corner and when I turned the corner I saw that workers had closed off the right-hand lane on McAndrews where it meets Biddle Road. They were working on some project at that corner. The total delay was about 25 minutes.

The holiday season seems like a particularly bad time of year to be doing that work since that area not only has three of the busiest streets in Medford (Riverside, McAndrews and Biddle), but also has the Rogue Valley Mall and the Bi-Mart shopping center, Blue Sky Plaza and the new mall next to it on McAndrews. Did anyone stop to think it wasn't a good idea to be doing this work right now?

— Lewis H., Medford

The city of Medford isn't entirely responsible for the timing of the road work happening on Biddle Road, Lewis, and city officials agree that the traffic it's causing is unfortunate during the holiday season.

The intersection modification where Biddle Road meets McAndrews Road was a required project for the developers of the nearby Northgate Centre Marketplace, housing new businesses such as REI and Trader Joe's, according to Brice Perkins, Medford public works operations manager.

Perkins said he wasn't sure of the exact lane changes to the intersection, but said that Northgate developers originally were required to have the work completed by January.

Other traffic work at the intersection of Highway 238 and Sage Road happening now also is part of Northgate developer's agreement with the city.

Perkins said if the public works department had been in charge of the project, officials might have timed the road work differently.

"Around the mall, we might take into account the time of year. I don't think if the city was doing this it would be happening right now," Perkins said.

Perkins said that permits and deadlines often come into play when scheduling road work, and traffic can't always be prevented.

"There are some traffic snarl-ups, there's no doubt about that," he said.

So, we have no good answer about why the work is being done during the busy holiday season, Lewis, but we do have some good advice: Avoid that stretch of streets for the next several weeks.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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