Several major road projects slated for Ashland in 2023

Workers apply a slurry seal in Ashland. In addition to a couple of major street rehabilitation projects in 2023, the city will also apply a slurry seal to several low-volume residential roadways to extend the useful life for those roads.
December 26, 2022

Street rehabilitation, road and bridge replacement projects in the works

By Jim Flint for Ashland.news

Three major road projects are slated for 2023 in and around Ashland.

The city has two street rehabilitation projects currently in the design stage, including Ashland Street from Siskiyou Boulevard to Faith Avenue, and Mountain Avenue from East Main to Interstate 5.

A third project, headed up by the Oregon Department of Transportation, involves replacement and repair of road and bridge driving surfaces from the north Ashland interchange at Exit 19 to the south Ashland interchange at Exit 11.

An I-5 section adjacent to Ashland from Exit 19 to Exit 11 will have major rehabilitation work done by ODOT in 2023, including replacement and repair of road and bridge driving surfaces, new safety rumble strips and new high visibility striping.

One of the city’s projects will require nimble planning and scheduling by Ashland Public Works. The timing of the Ashland Street rehabilitation will need to work around ODOT’s schedule for resurfacing the overpass deck on Ashland Street as part of its I-5 project.

“We are coordinating with ODOT to ensure that we don’t have any conflicts with contractors and timing,” said Ashland Pubic Works Director Scott Fleury.

Fleury expects the majority of the construction for both city projects to occur in 2023 and 2024 and will request budget appropriations for each in the 2023-25 budget biennium.

The Ashland Street rehab project also includes upgrades to wheelchair ramps — intended to meet current Americans With Disabilities Act requirements — and installation of crossing improvements, specifically at Normal Avenue.

The Mountain Avenue work will include ramp upgrades, crossing improvements, signage, striping and lighting.

Fleury says the city expects to finish the design work for both projects by early 2023, with a call for bids to follow.

Preliminary cost estimates for the two projects will have to be adjusted because of increases due to inflation, supply chain issues, and other factors.

“The cost estimates were put together in 2019,” Fleury said. “Today we are seeing costs two to four times higher and are waiting on updated engineers’ estimates for both projects.”

ODOT’s I-5 project near Ashland will go out for bids in February, with construction expected to begin in spring or summer of 2023. Design, engineering, and construction costs will exceed $12 million.

Contractors will remove the top two inches of existing pavement and replace it with a new asphalt layer to extend the service life. Work will include repairing or replacing bridge driving surfaces and joint repairs, and an upgrade of the weigh-in-motion apparatus for the weigh station.

Other improvements will include new safety rumble strips and new high visibility striping.

This section of I-5 was last paved in 2009. The improvements will eliminate ruffed tire tracks that gather water, which can cause vehicles to hydroplane. Water can also cause problems when it seeps into the roadbed through cracks in the asphalt.

ODOT officials say there are no current plans for a chip seal on North Main Street in Ashland, a roadway under its jurisdiction.

“The need certainly is there,” said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming, ODOT Public Information Officer. And it’s on the wish list. When it does happen, the project would take about two weeks to complete.”

He said the 2023-25 budget for maintenance paving has not yet been determined, but will be addressed in the spring.

“It is doubtful (the North Main chip seal) will happen this coming spring,” he said.

While the city’s Ashland Street and Mountain Avenue projects are under construction, planners will start design work on another major rehabilitation project: Oak Street from East Main Street to the city limits line.

“We are also planning to move forward with the grant-funded project to fully improve middle Clay Street to a city standard,” said Fleury. “That includes pavement, curb, gutter, park row, and sidewalk improvements for the section between Ashland Street and Siskiyou Boulevard.”

That section of the roadway is under Jackson County jurisdiction. Two years ago, the city and county partnered on a grant application through the auspices of the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, which has oversight on competitive transportation funding for the region.

“Jackson County and the city were awarded just under $7 million for the project,” Fleury said. “As part of our agreement, the city will deliver the project and coordinate direction with ODOT, which controls federal aid projects for local recipients.”

Because federal projects take longer from concept to finish, construction isn’t expected to begin until 2026. Meanwhile, rights of way requirements will be processed and design work will begin.

In 2023, the city will apply a slurry seal to several low-volume residential roadways to extend the useful life of those roads. The city performs this kind of work once per biennium. The street department does all the preparation work for the contractor, which includes crack sealing and asphalt patching work.

Fleury says no major roadway rehabilitation work was completed this year, although the city did prep work for the 2023 slurry seal and engineering design for the Mountain Avenue and Ashland Street projects.

“We were able to chip seal a few dirt roads in town through a grant we received this fall,” Fleury said. “The work was done by Jackson County, and we still have funds remaining to chip seal more dirt streets in town in 2024 when the county is back over on this side of the valley doing their own chip seal work.”

Reach writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

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