GOLD HILL — A new bridge over Kane Creek to replace a rusted-out culvert was completed within minutes of a deadline promised to business owners by Oregon Department of Transportation officials.
The $1.2 million project required a detour that closed access to Old Stage Road at Exit 40, near Gold Hill, for 10 days. The road reopened Thursday.
Business owners were nervous about closures during tourist season, but said this week they were grateful the work was done by the deadline and that state officials kept them updated on its progress.
"ODOT told us it would be 10 days for the detour and they were supposed to be done at midnight on Wednesday," said Dawni Stockton, owner of Dardanelles Community Store and gas station.
"At 11:55 p.m. they had the road opened back up. From a businesswoman standpoint, I did maybe a quarter of my normal business because most of my business comes off the freeway. But they did a great job and they came in every day and gave me an update on how things were going. I couldn't ask for much more than that."
ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said the bridge project is the second for Kane Creek, a Rogue River tributary. Last year, crews removed an obsolete fish ladder from a culvert beneath Lampman Road downstream and improved a 75-yard section of stream habitat.
To minimize the detour on the bridge project, contractors used prefabricated girders and bridge supports that were delivered to the work site.
"We fulfilled our promise to the shopkeepers around there on time, which was a major focus for us," Leaming said.
"Because of the necessity and importance of that connection, we decided to do what was called an expedited bridge delivery program — one of the region's first. And I think everybody came out a winner on this."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com