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Highway 62 revisited, or roads not taken

President Trump’s announcement that a massive infrastructure package to address the needs of the nation’s crumbling transportation system would have to wait until after the mid-term elections will not impact a current low-level operation focused on Southern Oregon.

The Community Roadway Alternative Program has been test-driving options — from minor tweaks to major overhauls — as it moves ahead with fixing current needs while projecting a future that would make the Rogue Valley a leader in innovative transportation design.

“We’re a year away from choosing which changes to proceed with,” director Ima Phulof said from her office in the outskirts of Buncom. “Right now, though, we’re taking virtual reality models out for a spin.”

The most ambitious proposal is the construction of a “Central Medford Interchange” — which would shoot west from the Medford viaduct and empty onto Highway 238.

Phulof said she’s received heavy interest from White Castle, In-N-Out, Five Guys, Wayback, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Red Robin and Carl’s Jr. to create a “weigh station burger multiplex” just off the exit outside of Jacksonville — giving those headed to the Britt Festivals a convenient place to eat before spending what would be their dinner hour looking for a place to park.

Another massive project would be a subway system (tentatively called the “Wimer Hummer”) with end terminals in Ashland and Central Point. The subway would take advantage of plans for a tunnel discussed in 2001 by the Medford City Council, and would intersect with the abandoned tunnel running from Crater Lake west toward a defunded federal government base beneath Cave Junction.

Conceptional strategist Tyler Durden said it was the first rule of the Community Roadway Alternative Program not to talk about the Community Roadway Alternative Program, but admitted that costs for the interchange or the subway would be prohibitive.

“If the Community Roadway Alternative Program did exist,” Durden sort-of said, “it certainly would lean toward cost-effectiveness. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here … but if we were, we wouldn’t tell you.”

Despite Durden’s non-denial denial of non-denials, the Mail Tribune has come into possession of a list of other projects being considered.

(“No you haven’t,” Durden interjected.)

Possibilities include:

— In response to continued uncertainty from some Medford drivers to proposed traffic circles, diamond-shaped roundabouts are being tested. These would include yield signs at each compass point, would mandate drivers to use their blinkers ... and could be expanded to include a fifth intersecting road (the so-called “pentagon circle”).

— A ride-share concept would operate a fleet of horse-drawn carriages along the Bear Creek Greenway. The Community Roadway Alternative Program has contracted with the company that annually provides Ashland with 500,000 plastic bags for dog-walkers to create a larger size for carriage-riders.

— As an offshoot of the Rogue Bike Share program, a Rogue Rail Riding service would be developed. Passengers would pedal a four-seater along existing train tracks (schedules permitting) to destination stations. Rogue Rail Riding is seen as a green alternative for commuters seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

— With the uncertainty over seasonal snowpacks, blueprints have been drawn for a gondola operation to run from the Mt. Ashland Ski Area to the Seven Feathers Casino & Resort. Landing towers would be at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival courtyard, Centennial Golf Club, Harry & David Field and the Jackson County Fairgrounds — with the framework in place for a theoretical stop atop the Holly Theatre in Medford.

— Once roadwork is complete on Crater Lake Highway, it will be dug up and converted into a road diet pattern — turning what can now be a frantic, frenzied four-lane fubar’d fiasco into a peaceful and tranquil one-lane drive that the Community Roadway Alternative Program says will make for a stress-relieving experience.

Still under consideration are a helicopter shuttle service among Rogue Valley wineries; a proposal to alleviate Medford parking problems by limiting the number of vehicles allowed in the city center; and a heavily redacted plan that apparently involves a coin-operated advertising zeppelin.

According to Ima Phulof, CRAP will sort through the proposals and run virtual simulations until its complete report is submitted a year from today … April 1, 2019.

Mail Tribune senior designer Robert Galvin, who can be reached at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com, knows that “gullible” is actually a word made up by Dr. Seuss and can’t be found in any dictionary.

The Fourth Wall