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Rerouting a name

Editorial

ODOT overstepped common sense in reassigning Jacksonville Highway

We think the Oregon Department of Transportation jumped the gun when it decreed that Jacksonville Highway is no longer Jacksonville Highway. That change directly affects some residents and indirectly affects virtually all residents. They deserve to have their say.

The issue arose when ODOT completed work on what is now called the Big X intersection ' the intersection of Highway 62, Highway 99 and Table Rock Road ' in north Medford. The work included a bypass for traffic to take a route to Jacksonville that is more direct and less congested than the old West Main-Jacksonville Highway route.

Drivers at the north end of town now can directly connect to Rossanley Drive, which takes them west to Hanley Road and then back to the original Jacksonville Highway about two miles west of Medford. It's a quicker route and reduces congestion in Medford.

But it is not Jacksonville Highway in the minds of anyone except a few ODOT planners, who decided that since the Highway 238 designation was moved to the new route, the name should go as well.

The name grab came as a surprise to the many businesses and residences along Jacksonville Highway, which are now faced with changing their addresses. That carries a cost in dollars and in tradition that has more than a few grumbling.

One of the complaints is that this new highway is not a highway but rather parts of three roads ' Rossanley, Hanley and the western half of Jacksonville Highway. Calling that a highway is confusing for residents and motorists alike. When Rossanley Drive ends at Hanley Road, it hardly makes sense that the road leading south is Jacksonville Highway but the same road to the north is Hanley.

— The bigger issue in our minds, however, is that Jacksonville Highway has long been the road that leads from the center of Medford to Jacksonville. It is presumptuous for ODOT to tell us ' the people who live here and use that route regularly ' that we can't call it that anymore.

Jackson County is now charged with coming up with a new name for the road. We suggest that the county commissioners and the road department tell the state that we like the old name just fine and that ODOT instead should come up with a new name for its new road.

We also suggest that in the future, ODOT engage residents in a conversation anytime it proposes to do something as personally significant as changing the address that goes on mailboxes in front of people's homes and businesses.

Seniors at several local high schools are hustling to get their academic work completed to graduate. Among other things, seniors at North and South Medford high schools and seniors at Phoenix High School must complete a project to graduate.

Senior projects require many hours of work outside of the classroom. In addition, seniors must turn in a minimum eight-page paper and do a presentation before judges.

Here's where you can help: The schools need assistance from members of the community willing to be judges for a few hours this week.

Judges are needed for these times and locations: from 12:15 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at North; from 12:45 to 3:45 p.m. Thursday and Friday at South; and from 12:15 to 2:30 p.m. June 2 at Phoenix.

To volunteer for these important jobs, call 779-5318 or 842-3693.