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Phoenix bridge project underway

Oregon Department of Transportation construction crews relocate the Talent, Ashland, Phoenix waterline in December while preparing for a new Coleman Creek culvert replacement project on Highway 99. Construction on the new bridge began this week. [ODOT photo]

Motorists should prepare for short delays and single-lane traffic on Highway 99 due to $5.7 million construction project north of Phoenix to replace a failing culvert with a bridge.

Highway 99 is down to one lane in both directions starting this week as road crews fix a severe drop on the Coleman Creek culvert — roughly 500 feet from North Phoenix Road — by replacing it with a wider, more pedestrian-friendly bridge, according to an ODOT website on the project.

Construction will continue through the fall as part of roadway improvements from Coleman Creek to Glenwood Road.

The contractor, Stellar J, is starting with the east side of the culvert as it works toward constructing a bridge capable of accommodating 7-1/2-foot sidewalks, a 5-foot bike lane, a center turn lane and four driving lanes.

Crews spent much of December relocating utility cables and waterlines to replace the old box culvert, which had a severe drop that was causing erosion downstream.

According to ODOT’s quarterly “Moving Ahead” publication, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife highlighted the culvert as a priority because of concerns about soil erosion hindering fish from migrating to spawning beds in the watershed.

Cutthroat trout and steelhead are native to the Bear Creek tributary, according to ODOT and ODFW.