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County Commissioners to discuss proposed rest stop

To Oregon Department of Transportation officials, it's a place where weary travelers could take a rest, but to Ashland neighbors, it's a place that would keep them up at night, both parties have said at past city meetings.

The county Board of Commissioners will take up ODOT's controversial plan to build a rest stop and welcome center off Interstate 5, just outside south Ashland, at its Wednesday meeting.

ODOT officials will address commissioners at the 1:30 p.m. public meeting at the County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.

Because the presentation will likely take up much of the meeting, the board is not expected to vote on the matter Wednesday, said Craig Anderson, a county planner.

Instead, the board will likely vote on the proposed rest area at a meeting later this month or in early February, Anderson said Monday. Further meetings on the issue will probably be scheduled for Jan. 21 and Jan. 28, and possibly early February, he said.

ODOT wants to build the rest area on the east side of the highway, between mileposts 12 and 13, about 500 feet from the city limits.

In 1996, the Siskiyou Rest Area near milepost 10 was shut down due to crashes involving runaway trucks and other safety reasons. The proposed rest stop would be on leveler ground than the previous one and outside of the Siskiyou Pass snow zone, making it safer, according to ODOT.

Only passenger and recreational vehicles — not large trucks — would be allowed to stop at the rest area.

The county Planning Commission recently recommended that the board approve the rest area, on the conditions that ODOT mitigate construction noise, install security cameras and construct a fence around the area near Ashland homes, among other requirements.