'Road diet' collusion's far-fetched

I guess I have a suspicious mind by nature, but I can't help wondering about the timing of the road diet and the proposal to build a senior center on East Main Street. The road diet idea popped up a couple weeks after it came out that someone wanted to build a three-story assisted-living complex on the same street. Is the city getting ready to make the road easier for all those seniors? What gives?

— Bob P., Medford

There's nothing wrong with a suspicious mind, Bob. We know a lot of people at Since You Asked headquarters who react suspiciously if you even say "Hello" to them in the morning.

We're sure that you're not that bad, Bob, but your suspicions suggest there's some kind of conspiracy theory between the city and the developers of the senior complex.

"Not so," said Cory Crebbin, director of Medford's Public Works Department.

The city has been eyeing many streets that have four lanes, but might be better served with two travel lanes and a center turn lane, he said. In addition, two bike lanes would be installed.

To prove his case, Crebbin cites a 2003 Transportation System Plan to identify 30 streets that could support alternative means of transportation such as bikes.

"We've been working on this for a while, but it's a 20-year plan," Crebbin said.

For the city to qualify for federal and state grants, it needs such a plan to show that it's making an effort to develop alternative methods of transportation.

Also, Crebbin said, the road is extremely unsafe for pedestrians to cross, because if they put their foot out onto the street to signal they want to cross, they could get run over.

With the bike lanes on either side of the street, pedestrians have a chance to step into the roadway without risk of losing a foot — or worse.

By the way, Crebbin objects to the use of the phrase "road diet."

"We think of this more as a way to make the street safer," Crebbin said.

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 youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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