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'Difficult' turn still needs work

The southbound right-turn lane from Biddle Road onto East McAndrews Road was open briefly, but it's been several weeks and the lane still is closed for no apparent reason. The corner is very difficult to navigate in its current state and nearly impossible for large trucks. The newly formed curb is being constantly driven over and possibly damaged. Do you know why the turn lane was closed, and when it is expected to open?

— Sid D., Medford

What you're describing, Sid, has been a can of worms for the city and Regency Centers, which operates the newly opened Northgate Center.

Despite the best efforts of all the parties, the work on that intersection has gone a little sideways, literally.

To back up a bit, the city required Regency Centers to improve the intersection to take into account additional traffic that would be flowing in and out of the Northgate Center.

Over the holidays and into January, a dedicated right-turn lane was installed to the west of the signal pole. A control panel for the signal was left in place just over the curb to the right of the lane.

In February, the lane was opened, and cars appeared to smoothly turn to the right, but trucks had a difficult time making the turn. As a result, a truck jumped the curb, taking out the control panel one night.

"It's a very difficult turn," said city engineer Larry Beskow.

The city worked through the night to get the control panel operational, but a decision was made to close the right-turn lane until someone came up with a better design.

Now, drivers have to make a very sharp right turn onto McAndrews around an island where the traffic signal is located. Many big rigs choose to turn at another location, Beskow said.

One of the sticking points in the discussions over the intersection was who was going to pay for the new work: the city, Regency Centers or the engineer.

"We spent a while looking at different alternatives, and we spent time figuring out who is going to pay for what," he said.

The city, which reviewed the design for the right-turn lane, decided to pay for moving the controller box farther away from the curb. The box now is located partially in the sidewalk area, so the move is a good thing.

Beskow said it will require about a week's worth of time for city crews to do the work, plus another $5,000 to $8,000 to move utilities.

The engineer and Regency are working out the costs of redesigning the right-turn lane and changing an island where the traffic signal is located.

Beskow said he hopes crews will start work on the project next week."Hopefully, by the next two weeks it will be done," he said.

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