The Medford City Council approved a final agreement Thursday with the Oregon Department of Transportation to move forward on a project to tie in two new east-west streets to Highway 62. The agreement also calls for realigning Crater Lake Avenue to ease traffic congestion on the highway and its feeder streets in east Medford.

The Medford City Council approved a final agreement Thursday with the Oregon Department of Transportation to move forward on a project to tie in two new east-west streets to Highway 62. The agreement also calls for realigning Crater Lake Avenue to ease traffic congestion on the highway and its feeder streets in east Medford.

The $10.4 million project will realign Owen Drive and Coker Butte Road and connect them into Highway 62 with crosswalks and traffic lights at each intersection.

Crater Lake Avenue will be realigned to the east at Owen and Coker Butte, providing more "stacking" distance on the avenue for vehicles headed onto Highway 62 and pulling the avenue's intersections away from the highway intersections. In the area of the approved changes, the avenue and state highway now run parallel to each other, with only a small strip of land separating them.

The changes will make the intersections safer and less confusing, said Gary Leaming, ODOT project information coordinator.

"As a driver, Crater Lake Avenue will still be open; it'll just be another route that will help traffic flow, for not only city traffic but highway traffic," Leaming said.

Connecting Owen into Highway 62 creates a direct route to the highway from Springbrook Road, taking some pressure off the Delta Waters Road intersection, which is frequently bottle-necked during rush hours.

Webfoot Road just south of Owen will no longer be an entrance to Highway 62, as Owen will take its place.

The traffic light at Cardinal Avenue near Costco also will be removed as a part of the project. Northbound drivers on Highway 62 will be able to turn left into the Costco and Wal-Mart parking lot at the new Owen intersection.

Construction is tentatively set to begin in summer 2009.

The street connections have long been part of a master circulation plan developed in the early 1990s and became possible after Coker Butte was extended.

ODOT's share of the project is about $9.4 million; the city's contribution is about $1 million.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.