By Buffy Pollock
for the Mail Tribune
GOLD HILL — State transportation crews will replace a rusted culvert over Kane Creek and improve fish passage at the same time.
Beginning Tuesday, Interstate 5 southbound off-ramp at exit 40 and a short connection between the exit and Old Stage Road will be closed for four days.
During the closure, southbound traffic will use exit 43 to enter Gold Hill or Lampman Road to connect to Old Stage Road, Dardanelle’s Market and Jacksonville.
A second, 10-day detour will take place after July 4 when the bridge is put together.
The $1.2 million project calls for building a bridge over Kane Creek on an access road between Exit 40 off Interstate 5 and Old Stage Road.
A four-day detour begins Tuesday as crews from Carter and Co. of Salem begin driving pilings into place for the bridge. A 10-day detour is planned in July when the bridge is put in place.
Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming said the bridge project is the second for Kane Creek, a Rogue River tributary. Another project last year removed an obsolete fish ladder from a culvert beneath Lampman Road downstream, and improved a 75-yard section of stream habitat there.
Crews began preparing the site by clearing vegetation in February.
To minimize detours, Leaming said contractors will use a prefabricated bridge design with precast girders and supports. “What’s unusual about this project is this is the first time we’ve done what’s called expedited bridge construction,” Leaming said. “Once the pile driving is done, the contractor will take measurements ... and everything will basically be premade when they get it down here.
“They can assemble those bridge components to make the bridge similarly as you would build a cabin with Lincoln Logs.”
Leaming said most residents, even longtime locals, were unaware of Kane Creek’s presence in that area. “Before they did the clearing in February, you really didn’t know there was a stream there.
“When it’s all done, there will be a sure bridge there and it will be a whole lot better for fish habitat,” he added. “The best part is that we’re essentially using fish passage dollars to replace a rusted-out culvert and opening up five miles of stream for fish migration.”
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com.