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Renovations begin to modernize East Medford's Foothill Road

Oregon Department of Transportation
Work has begun clearing trees and brush from Foothill Road on the east edge of Medford.

The City of Medford is overseeing renovations that began on Friday. The project will upgrade a rural country road to a modern thoroughfare through the Rogue Valley.

Construction has begun on the approximately $62 million road improvement project, which will expand the two-lane road to five lanes in most places. It will also add a center turn lane, sidewalk, gutter, curb and bike lanes.

John Vial, the Medford Public Works Director, said these renovations are necessary for a road that is currently unsafe and insufficient as a major Rogue Valley arterial.

"Foothill Road was built back basically from Model Ts. I mean, it was built 100 years ago. And it's a windy and narrow two-lane road that is completely insufficient for today's traffic," he said. "We have basically Foothill acting largely as a belt line. Because it goes all the way from White City now to Phoenix."

The project, from Delta Waters Road south to Hillcrest Road, includes five phases and will conclude at the end of 2026. The first phase involves removing trees and brush. The contractor is Knife River Materials of Central Point.

Jackson County is also overseeing renovations to a connecting section of Foothill Road that runs from Dry Creek Road south to Delta Waters Road. That construction, which will cost $11 million, began in January.

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Oregon Department of Transportation
This graphic depicts what the typical cross section of Foothill Road improvements will look like between McAndrews and Hillcrest Roads.

The city's portion of the project is funded by a Federal Build Grant, federal funds, a loan from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and funds from city reserves.

ODOT is overseeing the construction of the project.

Vial said drivers should expect 20-minute delays on Foothill Road and take a different route if they can.

"This is a project where accommodating traffic and getting the project done at the same time are almost impossible. And so what we want people to do is, if they can avoid Foothill during this construction, to do so," he said.

The road will be fully closed to all traffic from August 2023 to spring 2024.

Jane Vaughan began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media. Jane recently earned her Master's in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.