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Interchange boondoggle

So now we are told that to build the new South Medford Interchange (SMI) we only need to come up with &

36;70 to &

36;75 million. Let's just round that up to an even &

36;80 million by the time construction is scheduled to start. Let's see what we get for our money, shall we?

We get an interchange located off Garfield, not South Stage, where we were told it was going about 20 years ago. Medford still only has two exits with the new construction because the Barnett Road overpass will no longer be serving Interstate 5. The South Gateway Center will be even more populated by vehicles than it already is. Even more private and commercial expansion will sprawl over the new ground in South Medford made financially attractive by the new interchange.

None of those are good points. What is their problem in Salem? That &

36;80 million could make upgrades to the Barnett Road Interchange, fix the disaster that is downtown Medford's street design, replace the failing Table Rock Road overpass, and fund research into actually making sound decisions about our traffic issues here in the Rogue Valley.

Don't support the SMI. Tell ODOT that you don't buy it! ' Kevin C. Foltz, Central Point

Fix roads first

Are we really looking down the road? I see a lot of new intersection construction, and you say you are looking down the road 20 years. Then, you redo the same intersection a few years later!

Intersections will not solve the increasing congestion we are having today or in the future. The first things we need are more and better roads. And we need some freeway-type roads that run north/south/east/west.

— A good example is Eugene-Springfield. Costly? You bet, but not nearly as much as when we realize, in 10-20 years, that without these roads we are in hopeless gridlock. Maybe we are there now! Roads will solve increased traffic, not intersections. Intersections only make traffic flow better at junctures; they do not handle increases in traffic.

Yes, we need improved intersections, but to do them before we have the roads is getting the cart before the horse. ' Jim R. Stephenson, Medford

Housing catastrophe

I'm a perfect mortgage candidate: credit rating 863, no debt, earn &

36;55,500, no dependents, and VA qualified. However, I cannot afford a house without running the risk of becoming a debt statistic. One half my net pay goes to rent and utilities ' still less expensive than buying. Gone are the days when a mortgage was less expensive than renting.

Stories of the effects of housing costs abound. Ashland schools close, physicians refuse job offers at local hospitals, a major employer has difficulty recruiting police officers, and residents relocate to other states.

I'm surprised no one from the mental health field has written an article on the area's economic stress. As people stretch budgets to pay for housing, less is left for basic medical care, food and consumer goods and services. Government funding props up lower income families and the middle classes get pushed farther back. Add the decreased amount of time for family and stress builds to unhealthy levels, leaving the door open to reduced worker productivity, increased physical and emotional illnesses, increased crime rates and a host of other negatives. Where is the balance? Where and when will this cycle end? ' Danell M. Hiltz, White City

More topics for Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg did a good job taking the wind out of the limousine liberals who are tilting at windmills off the Cape Cod coast. He is on such a good roll I hope he doesn't stop. Much worse hypocrisy is waiting on his wit.

I'd love to see him take on the nannied neo-cons, the children of the architects of the Iraq war. These children of the rich and powerful will never have to lay their lives on the line to support the war their daddies started.

Next Jonah might go after George break-boy Bush, who never met a vacation he didn't like. When the going gets tough, the tough apparently just go fishing. If the rest of us took that much time off we'd be fired.

Well, Jonah is a good writer. I'm sure he can say it better than I have. I'm sure looking forward to it. ' Robert Keim, Talent