The Walmart in south Medford has been doing its thing for a while now. The folks from Medford Citizens for Responsible Development sued for a hugely expensive traffic study to prove that the south side would implode due to the car traffic.
I cannot help but wonder to what scale the sky has actually fallen. Were they right, wrong, slightly off or not even in the same ballpark?
— Michael T., Medford
Based on what our team of experts has ascertained, the Walmart doesn't seem to have created much of a traffic problem. But it's also worth noting that, in the end, the city was not required to do the traffic study.
As a bit of history, in 2010, the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously overturned an earlier decision by the state Land Use Board of Appeals that required the city to complete a comprehensive traffic study.
The court's ruling was the last major hurdle preventing Walmart from building its Supercenter.
Many of our crack — or is it crackpot? — investigators say they drive through the intersections near the Walmart with nary a hiccup. But just to make sure, we also checked with somebody whose title suggests he should have the real scoop.
"We have had no operational issues at the interchange as a result of the Walmart going in," said Gary Leaming, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The interchange Leaming refers to is the south Medford interchange on Interstate 5, which connects to the Walmart-area streets. He noted ODOT did install a "No U-turn" sign southbound on Highway 99 at Garfield Street to avoid any traffic conflicts.
We decided to dig even deeper for you, Michael.
We checked in with Cory Crebbin, director of Medford Public Works.
He said there has been a 10 percent increase in traffic on Center Street over the past decade but a decline in traffic where Stewart Avenue intersects Barnett Road.
"Based on this data, Walmart hasn't created any traffic issues that people thought it might," he said.
Crebbin said there have been many street improvements in the area as well that help traffic flow better.
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