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Since You Asked: Welcome center plan delayed by appeal to LUBA

What's the latest on the new rest area planned for Interstate 5 south of Ashland? I though construction would be under way by now.

— Murray D., Medford

Well, Murray, like a lot of projects we've seen over the years, this one is facing some legal hurdles. As noted in a Mail Tribune article on the welcome center in July, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved the project, subject to the city of Ashland agreeing to allow it to be connected to the city's sewer and water system.

Since then, three different groups have banded together to file an appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. As a result, the Oregon Department of Transportation has held off seeking Ashland's approval until the LUBA appeal is resolved.

If there were no LUBA appeal, ODOT had hoped to start construction next spring.

The 18-acre rest stop and welcome center would be located at milepost 12.5 off I-5, just south of Crowson Road in Ashland. ODOT has estimated the project will cost $5.5 million to $6.5 million.

It will have freeway on- and off-ramps for travelers heading north on Interstate 5. In addition to restrooms and landscaping, the site would include a $2 million lodge-style building funded separately by Travel Oregon and the Oregon Travel Information Council. No trucks would be allowed at the site.

Residents who live near the site of the proposed welcome center said it would bring more noise, increase chances of traffic accidents and potentially increase crime in their neighborhood.

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.