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Roundabout costs climb 25%

Medford's project at Highland Drive and Siskiyou Boulevard is also three months behind schedule

The price to build Medford's first roundabout is expected to increase by 25 percent from the original estimate, city officials said Monday.

The roundabout planned for the intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Highland Drive will likely cost in excess of &

36;1 million largely due to rising fuel prices, officials said.

Almost everything we do is directly affected by oil, said Cory Crebbin, public works director.

Asphalt is made of oil. Binders are made of oil. Trucks and construction equipment run on diesel.

Meanwhile, the engineering design and right-of-way acquisitions for the roundabout are lagging about three months behind schedule.

— Despite the delay, the target date for the roundabout's debut ' Medford's first on a public street ' remains mid-2006, officials said.

It's a difficult design with a lot of businesses and driveways, Crebbin said. We have to provide access to the businesses and grades for storm drainage.

This is the second time the project has been delayed. After approving the project in August 2004, the City Council put off awarding the engineering contract for three months after hearing concerns from the Eastside Neighborhood Association that the roundabout could be dangerous for bicyclists to navigate.

The council finally awarded the engineering contract in November to Parametrix Inc. of Oregon and Washington.

At that time, city officials projected the design would be finished by the end of July. It is now set to wrap up in October.

Construction can begin after the design and right-of-way are completed.

The delays played a secondary role in increasing the price of the project. Property appraisals, used in determining prices for buying rights-of-way, rise every year.

City engineers say the Siskiyou-Highland intersection's current design is misaligned and causes confusion for drivers. Twenty thousand cars navigate the intersection daily with four-way stops, and a fifth and sixth stop sign on an odd turn lane on the southwest corner of the intersection.

It's a problem intersection because it's catawampus, Crebbin said. There are two intersections right next to each other, and that doesn't work well. There is a light and then, another light coming in 50 feet away.

The roundabout will have one 18-foot-wide travel lane with a counter-clockwise traffic flow. Pedestrian walkways will be marked and the center island will be raised. Bicyclists may travel in the roundabout with traffic or use the wide multi-use path shared with pedestrians.

A roundabout works better than a signaled intersection, Crebbin said. There is less congestion, less pollution and lower speeds.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4496 or e-mail Roundabout costs climb 25%"pachen@mailtribune.com.