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Since You Asked

Do you know what is going on at the corner of Delta Waters Road and Crater Lake Avenue? There are quite a few pipes being put together and a directional drill rig there. Will there be construction on Delta Waters? — John L., Medford

That's all part of a project to upgrade and expand Avista's natural gas pipeline. And construction already is happening right underneath Delta Waters Road.

The directional drill you spotted is boring under Delta Waters toward Springbrook Road and is about halfway there, said John Schwendener, an Avista construction manager based in Medford.

When that intersection is reached, Brotherton Pipeline Inc. crews will dig a hole there, enlarge the tunnel, then pull through 2,000 feet of 12-inch steel pipe. The plan is to dig the access hole in the center turn-lane on Delta Waters to cause minimal disruption to traffic, Schwendener said.

That stretch of new pipeline is just part of a massive, four-phase project to improve the Avista pipeline Schwendener calls "the backbone" for service throughout the Rogue Valley.

Last year, the first phase placed pipeline from Centennial Golf Course along North Phoenix Road to Hillcrest Road, and phase two placed pipeline from the Veterans Affairs center in White City to Vilas Road. This year, phase three is placing the link from Vilas Road to Springbrook Road, with plenty of work in evidence along Highway 62. The final phase will complete the section from Springbrook to Hillcrest next year, Schwendener said.

The entire project — budgeted for $12 million, but now expected to cost less as the price of steel pipe has dropped — is being done to meet current need and expected growth on the east side of Medford. Avista's main pipeline, built in 1964, runs along the west side of the valley.