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County puts flashing lights at Foothill and Lone Pine

Flashing lights are being installed near the intersection of Lone Pine and Foothill roads where a motorcyclist died in October 2008.

County road officials said the lights are being added to promote safety at the troublesome intersection. Speed-limit signs were installed in February, and the new lights alerting drivers approaching Lone Pine and Foothill roads are expected to be installed next week, Jackson County Engineer Mike Kuntz said.

Kuntz said the two flashers will warn drivers they are approaching the intersection.

"It's sort of a heightened warning, so (drivers) pay attention that they're coming to an intersection," he said.

The solar-powered flashers cost $3,000 each and will be installed about 300 feet from the intersection, Kuntz said.

Medford police have responded to 17 crashes at or near the intersection over the past five years, and two of the accidents have involved fatalities, Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said.

Charles Sugg, 67, died in an accident at the busy intersection while riding his motorcycle on Oct. 6, 2008. His widow, Doris Sugg, began a campaign to make the site safer. She was joined by Robert Hamburg, the man who was driving the truck Charles Sugg's motorcycle collided with.

Kuntz said only six of the crashes actually occurred at the intersection. Ten of the other crashes were related to running off the roadway, a problem that the lowered speed limit should significantly reduce.

The speed limit on Foothill Road was changed from the "basic rule" (which requires drivers to travel at a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and not to exceed 55 mph) to 45 mph from Hillcrest Road to just north of East McAndrews Road, and from 45 mph to 35 mph just north of East McAndrews Road to 150 feet north of Eucalyptus Drive.

Kuntz said plans to place "right turn only" signs on Lone Pine Road and tall flexible plastic tubes — similar to those on sections of Biddle Road — in the center line of Foothill Road at the intersection were scrapped, at least temporarily, after motorists complained about the proposed changes, said Kuntz.

The county doesn't anticipate any additional road work in the area for the next two to three years. However, if the economy recovers, the county will consider connecting Lone Pine and McAndrews roads. That arrangement would allow the county to install a median at the intersection without forcing drivers to go out of their way.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.