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Since You Asked

The freeway on-ramp for northbound traffic coming from the new south Medford interchange is a hazard. We narrowly escaped a four-car rear-ender there last week because the driver in front of us didn't see an 18-wheeler soon enough and panicked. Drivers in smaller cars heading down the ramp can't see right-lane traffic because of the retaining wall and the difference in elevation. I hope the merge lane will be widened when construction is finished, because right now it's dangerous.

— Mark H., Medford

Help is one the way, Mark. The situation on the northbound on-ramp will be fixed by next week, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming notes that Interstate 5 in Medford has been under construction since last spring, a third at a time to allow traffic to flow.

In the most recent — and final — stage of construction, the northbound lanes have been shoved as far to the east edge as possible. That created a shorter ramp for the new northbound on-ramp traffic.

When I-5 is back to its normal configuration, the ramp will be longer and the line of sight for drivers will be better, Leaming says. In fact, the end of the northbound on-ramp will be more than 300 feet north of the existing Barnett Road overpass.

Because of the construction, the ramp currently ends at the bridge abutment of the overpass, meaning some drivers must make a quick choice between a concrete pillar, an 18-wheeler or the speedy application of the brake pedal.

The fix to the on-ramp will coincide with some more challenges for drivers next week, as the contractor sets the permanent barrier in the middle of the freeway and finishes paving in the vicinity of the interchange. Beginning Monday and ending Friday, the paving crews will limit traffic to one lane during the evenings and early mornings. The paving will also create a 2-inch lip between lanes at times, so keep your wits about you when you're driving through the area next week.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.