No project has been more controversial or changed the face of Medford more than the elevated road known as the Interstate 5 viaduct — a 3,220-foot ribbon of concrete that stands 100 feet above Bear Creek in the middle of downtown.
Completed in 1962 for $10.5 million, the elevated bridge cut Medford in two.
There was no shortage of public opinion about the project. In 1955, when the State Highway Department held a public meeting in Medford's Craterian Theater, three other routes for the freeway were under consideration: A route west of Medford would have passed near Oak Grove School. An eastern route would have skirted the foothills near Hillcrest Orchard, while a surface route was envisioned just east of Bear Creek through Geneva and Genessee streets.
A few months later, Medford's Glenn Jackson, the powerful chairman of the State Highway Commission, approved the viaduct option, agreeing with those who said it would destroy fewer houses and have less of an impact on orchard and agricultural land.