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Asphalt blues

Drivers and business owners shared mixed feelings about how construction work off Highway 62 between Poplar Drive and Delta Waters Road is affecting traffic.

“It’s pretty well settled,” said Harry Bayliss of Shady Cove, who said the work wasn’t much of a problem Wednesday morning outside Hubbards Home Center.

Jan Napoleon, who was visiting Hubbards with a friend, had a different view, however. When asked whether the work made access more difficult, she replied, “It certainly did. It’s a pain.”

The situation would have been worse coming from Costco if she wanted to get into Hubbard’s, said Napoleon.

Work is underway to create a turnoff from Highway 62 to an expressway that will link Medford to Corey Road near White City and relieve congestion on the highway. Traffic counts on Highway 62 at Delta Waters are higher than those on Interstate 5 north of Medford.

Contractor Knife River must keep two lanes open in each direction from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. At other times, it can restrict traffic to allow construction.

Businesses on the south side of Highway 62 are impacted because median barriers have cut off access from westbound lanes in some areas. There are also narrower entrances and exits for eastbound traffic.

U-turns are now permitted at the intersection of Poplar Drive and Bullock Road so drivers can reach businesses there. But U-turns were eliminated at Delta Waters because of the construction work, making it more difficult for those who want to return west.

Skypark Drive south of businesses on Highway 62 allows some access. Hubbards is running TV commercials that show customers how to enter from Skypark by turning onto Delta Waters and then Crater Lake Avenue.

“I’m pretty sure we’re losing business over it just because it is inconvenient,” said O’Reilly Auto Parts Manager Tarah Sorenson. For now customers can enter off Skypark Drive via a private drive. But should that property sell and be closed off, customers would have access only off Highway 62, said Sorenson.

O'Reilly customer James Lewis of Medford said it wasn’t difficult to get to the store Wednesday morning, but added that he needed to make a three-point turn to get his RV into the lot.

“Business seems to be about the same as usual,” said Lava Lanes General Manager Elijah Todd.

An existing median prevented left turns off the westbound highway, but there is a back entrance off Skypark Drive that many people used prior to the work to get to the bowling facility.

“There’s a lot more coming that way with the construction,” said Todd.

A second stage eliminating westbound left turns was completed Tuesday evening, and a third will take place farther west, said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming.

“By the end of the summer, the median will go all the way down to Poplar,” said Leaming.

The latter phase has Alan Zetterquist with Sherwin-Williams paint concerned. There’s not been much impact on his business so far, he said, but the barriers and lack of a U-turn at Delta Waters may discourage potential customers.

Another project change has been the elimination of traffic exiting the Delta Center directly onto Highway 62 westbound. Drivers must return to Delta Waters Road, said Leaming. On July 26, left turns onto Skypark Drive will be eliminated.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

Jan Napoleon of Talent shops at Hubbards Wednesday. Napoleon says it's a pain to get to businesses near the construction at Highway 62 and Delta Waters Road in Medford. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Construction continues on a Highway 62 bypass near Delta Waters in Medford. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch