PHOENIX — A three-dimensional video released by Oregon Department of Transportation officials gives drivers a virtual trip over what will be the new Fern Valley interchange.
ODOT will break ground in the spring on the new $73 million crossing-diamond interchange. The first of its kind on the West Coast, it will direct drivers to the left-hand lanes — or "wrong" side of the road — to cross over Interstate 5. It will replace the current overpass, which officials say is failing because of frequent congestion and safety issues.
To watch a video of how the new interchange works, go to www.mailtribune.com/videos.
Project website: www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION3/pages/fvi_index.aspx
ODOT spokesperson Gary Leaming said the video, which is to scale and includes existing landmarks, will give motorists a firsthand glimpse at how traffic will flow after the new interchange is completed.
"Because this was a new type of interchange, it was important to show people early on how to drive it," Leaming said.
"It's a really good type of interchange for the city because it really moves a lot of traffic and it will move traffic quickly and safely for a lot of years to come."
The project was initially set to break ground in 2006 but was delayed after residents complained the interchange's footprint would adversely impact Highway 99 and nearby businesses. The crossing-diamond design was then chosen to help reduce those impacts.
"It has been a long time coming, so we're hopeful this video will give people assurance that what is going to be built will work really well and will be a really great improvement for not only Phoenix but the Rogue Valley," Leaming said.
"Instead of looking at some lines on paper, this really makes the project come alive and gives perspective of what it will look like for people when they finally get to drive it."
Leaming said bids will open Halloween Day, with an award expected by year's end.
The Missouri Department of Transportation was the first agency to use this type of interchange in the U.S., according to ODOT.
"We learned from talking to drivers in Missouri and other places that it only seems kind of weird once," said Leaming.
"The way it's designed and the siding makes it just seem like you're crossing over onto a one-way street. We think it's going to really improve traffic flow in that area for a long time."
Leaming said the interchange will take about two years to build.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.