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Riverside roadwork starts next week

A three-block stretch of Riverside Avenue will become a gravel road for six weeks starting Monday as part of a major construction effort to create new parks and streets in the downtown area.

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency on Thursday approved a $1.9 million contract with KOGAP Enterprises Inc. to begin construction Monday night on the parks and roadway system for The Commons.

The parks — each a full city block — will be built on North Bartlett Street between Fourth and Sixth streets.

KOGAP will install drain lines, water connections, sidewalks, roads, street lights and other features. Separate contracts will be awarded for the park blocks themselves.

Lithia Motors Inc., the general contractor for The Commons, recently decided to tear out the pavement on Riverside Avenue to help level the roadway.

Part of the road was going to be torn up anyway to redirect a drainage line that now runs under the Red Lion Inn.

"Riverside will be a bit of a mess between Fourth Street and Main Street," said Eric Iversen, project manager for Lithia.

The roadwork on Riverside caught MURA board members by surprise.

"I didn't realize there was going to be these improvements to Riverside," said MURA board president Dick Gordon.

Iversen said the decision to improve Riverside was made recently because the roadway conditions weren't good.

Riverside will be completely closed most nights during construction. It will be open to traffic during daylight hours but motorists will have to contend with a gravel road.

The main work on Riverside will be from Sixth to Fourth streets, but traffic will detour at Main Street at night.

Sidewalks and trees will be featured on both sides of Riverside as part of the project. New traffic signals will be installed at Riverside and Sixth Street.

Iversen said Lithia expects the Riverside repairs to be completed in time for the annual Pear Blossom Parade on April 14.

The park blocks will have water and electrical hookups because the city hopes to host events such as the farmer's market.

The surface of Fifth Street will feature decorative pavers similar to those in Middleford Alley instead of an asphalt roadway.

The city has committed $14.1 million to the parks project and roadways within The Commons. Lithia will spend $18 million for its four-story headquarters as well as the sidewalks, landscaping and other features surrounding the building.

MURA board members wondered why Lithia had divided the construction of the parks into three contracts.

Iverson said Lithia officials have been trying to find ways to bring costs down on various phases of the project to potentially build additionally parking in the downtown. He said they could get better bids by dividing the roads and parks work into three separate projects.

Iversen said some design changes to the parks, such as the water features, also could reduce overall costs.

City officials anticipate additional parking will be required once The Commons is completed.

KOGAP will rip up existing roads on North Bartlett Street between Fourth and Sixth streets.

New sidewalks and trees will be installed in about an eight-square-block area.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email dmann@mailtribune.com.

The Lithia headquarters building on Bartlett Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, will be the centerpiece of The Commons. Work on Riverside Avenue between Main and Fourth streets starts Monday night. - Bob Pennell