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Traffic light was cheaper than a roundabout

Recently a traffic light was added at the intersection of Owen Drive and Crater Lake Avenue. Before, traffic on Crater Lake Avenue had a stop sign and drivers on Owen had the right of way. Now the light is always red when I drive down Owen, and it usually causes me to miss the long light at Owen and Crater Lake Highway. Why was this light added, other than to tack on five minutes to my commute? I never saw anyone waiting too long at Crater Lake Avenue, and now we sit in traffic for longer.

— Stuck on my commute

Safety concerns drove the city of Medford to add additional traffic control at that intersection, said Kristina Johnsen, communications and marketing manager for the city.

Comments on an image the city posted to Facebook the day the new traffic signal debuted, Nov. 6, included one from a woman who said she had been T-boned. Another woman said it provided a safer way for pedestrians to cross the street.

The feedback on the new addition mostly centered on the fact that it wasn’t a roundabout. That was another option the city considered, Johnsen said.

The “intersection control evaluation” conducted at the site determined that while both options would have increased pedestrian and driver safety, the roundabout plan had some significant drawbacks. Because the roundabout would have needed two-lane approaches, the city would have had to purchase property around the intersection.

That would have pushed the cost of the project up to $2.7 to $3.4 million, according to the city’s estimate.

The light that so irks you cost $570,644.50, Johnsen 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@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.