The Medford City Council Thursday approved an expansion plan for the north Medford Wal-Mart store that includes street improvements to be paid by the company.

The Medford City Council Thursday approved an expansion plan for the north Medford Wal-Mart store that includes street improvements to be paid by the company.

The plan would expand the store on Crater Lake Highway into a Supercenter, which would offer groceries in addition to its current selection of general merchandise. The building would expand from 127,000 square feet to more than 150,000 square feet.

A timeline for completing the project has not been set, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said. Wal-Mart officials previously have said the expansion would not affect plans for building a new Supercenter in south Medford. That project is tied up in land-use appeals.

The development agreement approved Thursday requires Wal-Mart to contribute right-of-way, easements and $474,000 toward construction of a segment of the Owen Drive-Coker Butte Road improvement project, said Cory Crebbin, Medford public works director.

The $10 million road project by the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation is meant to dilute traffic on Crater Lake Highway, also known as Highway 62, which provides access to some of Medford's largest retail stores and serves as a gateway to Crater Lake National Park, Crebbin said.

"I think this is going to be a very helpful project," said Councilman Al Densmore.

Plans call for connecting Owen Drive from Springbrook Road across Highway 62 to Lear Way, taking some pressure off the congested Delta Waters Road and Highway 62 intersection, Crebbin said.

Currently running parallel to the highway, Crater Lake Avenue will be realigned to the east at Owen and Coker Butte, providing more of a queuing distance on the avenue for drivers approaching Highway 62 and pulling the avenue's intersections away from the highway intersections, he said. Crosswalks and traffic signals will be added to both the Owen Drive and Coker Butte intersections.

Construction of the road improvements is tentatively set for summer 2009.

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