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Fix traffic problems firstRegarding the worsening traffic situation: Isn't it obvious that planners need to fix traffic problems, current or anticipated, before building projects are approved? Many of us have written, talked, suggested. But apparently no one is listening.

Another frustration is where the road money is being spent. An example is the roundabout soon to be constructed at Siskiyou and Highland. Drivers handle that intersection beautifully; there is no history of accidents. Why "fix" something that is not broken, when money is desperately needed for crucial projects? &

8212; Joanne Sorensen, Medford

Bike routes don't existSince I commute a little over four miles to work by bicycle, I would love to believe the situation is improving for cyclists in Medford as suggested by Meg Landers' story (Page 1, July 11). The fact is, if you must commute from west to east Medford as I do, there's no way to avoid riding right in the traffic. Since there is no east/west bike route, motorists are forced to go around cyclists no matter how far to the right we try to stay. Many cyclists resort to riding the sidewalk which, of course, then risks collisions with pedestrians. If Medford is serious about encouraging alternative forms of transportation, this must be addressed. With all of us having to endure the more-or-less constant road construction it seems incredible to see no evidence of an east-west bike route in the plan. Just one central, safe route across town would go a long way toward encouraging a larger number of people to leave the car home more often. &

8212; Leonard Griffie, Medford

Uncontrolled growthRecent articles and editorials regarding growth in the valley demonstrate the mess created by uncontrolled growth. The Southeast Plan will dump some 17,000 people onto North Phoenix and Barnett roads. Not satisfied with that, the city can hardly wait to approve the Manor's application to put another 2,500 people just across the road.

Medford is now merging with Central Point, which is growing into Jacksonville. Medford and Phoenix will soon meet. It would be cheaper for those cities to purchase the Arrowhead Ranch and leave it as it is than to develop it.

The Mail Tribune is willing to sacrifice Medford's livability by encouraging large commercial developments in order to protect the livability of the rest of the valley. One assumes "livability" to be comparable to Orange County or San Jose.

The concept of seeking growth in order to build a larger tax base is an urban myth. Compare Medford's population and tax base 20 years ago with comparable figures today. The increased tax base should have paid for the necessary additions to the infrastructure. Instead, the city wants to tax any and everything to satisfy basic needs.

There is a straight-line correlation between city population and per capita taxes. &

8212; Pat Clason, Medford

Bike riding dangerousIn your article "Some abandon cars to commute by bicycle," you stated that the Bicycle Transportation Alliance gave Medford a D-minus in 2002 for its infrastructure and policies that support bicycle transportation. That sounds about right to me even now, and I'd give drivers the same grade. I too abandoned my car to commute to work by bike. I wanted to save on gas, get exercise, and help the environment. But after being nearly hit four times in one week by careless drivers, I abandoned my bike and went back to my car.

I can understand that part of the problem is rooted in the infrastructure. Why do we have gigantic sidewalks in downtown Medford but no bike lanes, for example? A lack of bicycle lanes forces bikers onto sidewalks (which is illegal) or into narrow traffic lanes, where they must navigate a narrow space between the curb and passing vehicles. You just hope drivers see you in time to change lanes or at least slam on the brakes or swerve around you. If Medford and the surrounding areas are genuinely concerned about increased traffic, then they should incorporate more bicycle lanes as they expand, renovate, and create new roads. &

8212; Sarah Kaip, Medford

Build infrastructure firstIn your recent articles on gridlock, you asked "What do you think?" I think Medford is growing fast and isn't keeping up with the appropriate infrastructure to accommodate the growth.

That isn't a "rocket scientist-type" statement, of course; but perhaps if more of us expressed it, our community planners would hear the message. We don't want gridlock. We want to move freely throughout our community. We don't want 50-minute commutes across town. We want traffic patterns that promote sanity while driving.

Is it totally out of the realm of possibility that it be required to have the infrastructure in place before the approvals are given for new businesses or new subdivisions? To those of us not dealing with the questions and answers on a daily basis, it seems like such a simple solution. What are the negatives? &

8212; L. Evans, Medford

Problem already existsGridlock in the Rogue Valley? Naw ... that will never happen here. Excuse me? It's already happening here! It's at its worst at the very Interstate 5 exit/interchange that has made headlines lately!

Is anybody really listening to what everybody is saying? ODOT? Probably not. Developers and builders? Definitely not. But worst of all, city councils and planning departments of the surrounding areas must be deaf, dumb and blind. You are allowing this rural area to turn into an overdeveloped nightmare.

Didn't most of us move here to get away from overpopulation, urban blight and gridlocked roads and freeways in San Jose, L.A. and many other large metropolitan areas? Now what's happening here? Stop! Slow down the greedy development. Take time to re-evaluate the overall impact of all development to a peaceful way of life. Don't allow unbridled development to go ahead until all the necessary infrastructure is in place and make sure that the developer kicks in a large monetary share to building the needed infrastructure. This needs to happen now &

8212; not later.

Either this happens or we need to change the name of our area to the "San Jose Metropolitan Area."

That would be so sad. &

8212; Allen Stewart, Jacksonville

Who needs a leg up?In a recent commentary column, Jeff Golden advocates impressive financial breaks for a single class of college students &

8212; those intending to pursue careers in social work.

Leaving aside what could be a pesky 14th Amendment equal protection issue, Golden argues these folks need a leg up because their careers of "grueling" altruism won't earn them high enough salaries to shrink their college loan debts rapidly enough.

Golden seeks no such charity for graduates in math, science, and business who actually produce wealth and contribute to a robust economy. I think the downtrodden are far better off in the society those energetic folks create, rather than being obliged to endure the perpetual ministrations of social work graduates. &

8212; Hubert Smith, Jacksonville

Despicable thievesSome low-lives have been stealing the flags from in front of our VFW Post 6881 in Shady Cove:

Last year they cut the rope and took both the American and the POW/MIA flags. It was necessary to lower the 40-foot pole to enable us to put the cable through the pulley on top, then install the new flags &

8212; cost $102. Thanks to one of our fellow veterans for donating his time and equipment to accomplish this.

This last weekend they stole only the American flag. These flags are displayed to honor our veterans, past and present. It is despicable for someone to steal these treasures, which so many of us have fought and died for. God bless America and our veterans. &

8212; Bob Walsh, VFW adjutant, Shady Cove

Shame on North'sI have sat here with pen in hand, today I have to put it on paper. To the owners of J J North's, do you know what you did? Do you care what you did to your friends — What were you thinking? Was it the almighty dollar? Was it Lithia, Mahar, or some other big contractor? Or maybe ODOT will put a street through there.

You have displaced many senior citizens, many organizations, and many faithful employees. All I can say is shame on you. &

8212; Paulette House, Medford

No right to litterI'm reading in disbelief a letter from Karen Workman-Hall (July 11) who is incensed at being urged to clean up her own garbage at the Fourth of July parade.

I say kudos to the woman who did so and shame on Ms. Workman-Hall. It's bad enough being a litterbug, but then to be self-righteous about it really blows my mind.

She states that the world could be a better place if people would mind their own business. Isn't cleaning up one's own mess a perfect example of tending to one's own business? Isn't leaving a mess for others to clean up forcing them to take care of your business?

Just because there are street cleaners doesn't make it right to be a litterbug any more than having police makes it right to be a criminal. Show some respect for the community and those around you and most of all show some self-respect and have the decency to clean up after yourself. &

8212; Joe Meadows, Ashland