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Why is Highway 62 such a mess?

Has anyone noticed the horrible trash along Highway 62? Pretty much all the way from Medford to Eagle Point, but especially between Owen Drive and Vilas Road. It is a disgrace; trash has been there for months. Why is this road not being cleaned up? I’ve seen crews cleaning up other roads in the valley, so it seems it could be done during the COVID-19 restrictions. Oregon used to have the most beautiful highways, but no one seems to care anymore.

— Ron, Eagle Point

The SYA news desk reached out to Gary Leaming with the Oregon Department of Transportation with this one, because ODOT is primarily responsible for the upkeep of highways and freeways in the state of Oregon, and though the city of Medford has dibs on the stretch of Highway 62 Ron singled out, the primary issue is the same. It really all comes down to COVID-19, and the restrictions related to it.

According to Leaming, ODOT has not been able to hire corrections crews, and last year summer litter crews were not hired. Concerns regarding the safety of workers led to the elimination of those jobs, which has in turn led to the increase in highway litter.

Leaming said he understands the concern and does care about the condition of the highways, but rules are rules. Between now and the time restrictions are lifted, he added, everybody can help keep the roads as clean as possible by simply being considerate.

“So we would just encourage people to make sure that their loads in their pickups are not blowing sacks and other debris out on the road and to basically pick up after themselves,” he said. “So, yeah, we understand it is a problem and we don’t like it as much as anybody else, but it’s kind of what we’re faced with right now so we’re hoping it will ease up as more people get vaccinated for COVID.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.