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MailTribune.com
  • Lines of demarcation

    Medford at a crossroads over downtown parking, traffic safety
  • Charlotte Fredericks is on her guard as she crosses into traffic on busy Main Street in downtown Medford.
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  • Charlotte Fredericks is on her guard as she crosses into traffic on busy Main Street in downtown Medford.
    "I have people stop for me, but then other cars in the other lanes don't see me," said the 59-year-old Medford woman.
    Fredericks suggested installing a flashing light at Bartlett and Main streets to warn drivers that pedestrians are about to cross.
    Downtown merchants say Main Street desperately needs a makeover to provide a safer environment for pedestrians and to provide more parking spaces for motorists.
    One of the ideas being discussed is to create diagonal parking spaces along the north side of the street, with vehicles backing in rather than heading nose in.
    The Medford Parking Commission has requested $15,000 from the City Council to study how to improve Main Street from Riverside to Oakdale avenues to make it a less nerve-rattling experience for pedestrians.
    The idea is to squeeze more parking spaces into the downtown, slow traffic down and create a dedicated bike lane, said Mark Millner, chairman of the Medford Parking Commission and co-owner of Terra Firma.
    He said the Parking Commission has expanded the area where it would like to install diagonal parking from Riverside Avenue to Grape Street. The traffic study would analyze the pros and cons of backing a vehicle into a diagonal parking space versus the more conventional method.
    Instead of heading straight into a space, motorists would pull past the slot and then back in at an angle — a variation on parallel parking. The idea is to provide better visibility for drivers by allowing them to pull out of the parking spots by moving forward, rather than backing out into traffic that they sometimes cannot see.
    Main Street currently has three lanes of traffic, all heading west. With the addition of diagonal parking, the number of traffic lanes would be reduced to two.
    Millner said he would like to consider crosswalks at Bartlett that would bump out slightly into the street, similar to many other downtown sidewalks. A flashing light also might be helpful at that intersection, he said.
    "We want to calm traffic down," he said.
    City councilors want to see the scope of the traffic study at an upcoming meeting before they agree to spend $15,000 for it.
    "It's an interesting concept to look at," Councilor Al Densmore said.
    With two major building projects starting this summer in the downtown, there will be increased traffic pressures on Main, he said.
    The One West Main corporate offices, surrounding the Evergreen parking garage at Main and Fir streets, are scheduled to begin construction next month. The Jackson County Health Services building is already under construction on Eighth Street.
    Densmore said he sees a need to find ways to slow drivers down and make the downtown more pedestrian-friendly.
    Councilor Chris Corcoran said the council will listen to the Parking Commission presentation to make a determination whether the $15,000 expenditure is necessary.
    He said he is not sold so far on the parking proposal.
    "I don't know whether diagonal parking would help or hurt the flow in the downtown core," he said. "It's still got to be proven to me before I would back the idea."
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.
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