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Ashland to tweak 'road diet'

 Posted: 2:00 AM December 14, 2013

The city of Ashland plans to tweak the so-called road diet along North Main Street to boost safety and improve access to a medical office.

Some of the changes could take place by this coming spring, said Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught.

In fall 2012, North Main Steet was re-striped to turn its four car travel lanes into two travel lanes with a center turn lane on the north side of town. That created room on the edges to add bike lanes.

Earlier this month, Ashland City Councilors voted to make the pilot project road diet permanent.

Councilors also approved modifications to the road diet.

Some stretches of North Main Street still lack center turn lanes.

The city plans to re-stripe the road diet area to create a center turn lane where North Main Street intersects with Bush Street.

On Ashland's outskirts, a new left turn lane will help northbound drivers who are trying to turn off North Main Street onto Ashland Mine Road.

Other changes include turning Central Street into a one-way street from Laurel to North Main Street.

Faught said the cost of those changes isn't known yet, but money would likely come from city street funds.

The most expensive change would be to shift a driveway to the Stone Medical office farther away from where North Main Street intersects with Maple Street.

A center turn lane on North Main Street near the medical office would be shortened as well.

Faught said that shifting the driveway could cost about $50,000.

He said the city may ask the building's owners to share the cost of the change.

Most of the $187,500 cost to re-stripe North Main Street to create the road diet was funded by Oregon Department of Transportation Department grants.

ODOT was interested in funding the road diet as a one-year pilot project.

Additional ODOT funding to pay for adjustments may not be forthcoming since the road diet is no longer a pilot project, Faught said.

"We'll still look for any grants that may be available," he said.

ODOT engineers will review the proposed road diet adjustments, Faught said.

The road diet has met with mixed reviews.

Some residents say it has eliminated jockeying for position and lane changes among drivers and improved safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Critics say drivers can be trapped behind slow moving vehicles and the new bike lanes aren't heavily used by cyclists.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.


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