PHOENIX — A project that was expected to cause mile-long traffic delays this week near Exit 24 on Interstate 5 has been delayed because of rain.
Open-ditch work to install a stormwater pipe as part of a new, $72 million Fern Valley interchange was supposed to start Monday night. The excavation work isn't weather-dependent, but restriping to close lanes is, Oregon Department of Transportation officials said.
"The critical piece to this that the rain affects is the traffic control," spokesman Gary Leaming said. "You can't stripe when it's wet."
General contractor Hamilton Construction of Springfield has delayed the work until the forecast clears up, though no date has yet been set.
"We're going to let the contractor make that call," Leaming said. "We'll get at least a day or two notice and then we'll pass that along."
The National Weather Service is predicting intermittent rain showers for the Rogue Valley throughout the week, with temperatures ranging from the high 50s to mid-60s.
When the weather clears, workers will install a 4-foot-diameter stormwater pipe. The installation will close one lane of I-5 in each direction about a half-mile north of the Phoenix exit. Speeds for motorists will be reduced to 50 mph. The work is anticipated to take 25 days to complete.
During that time, ODOT is encouraging drivers to avoid the I-5 construction zone by using alternate routes such as Highway 99 or North Phoenix Road, or by taking a Rogue Valley Transportation District bus. Drivers are also encouraged to give themselves extra time to reach their destination. Congestion is expected to peak during the morning and evening commute times.
The average daily traffic on the I-5 stretch between Phoenix and Medford is close to 38,000 vehicles, ODOT officials said.
When completed, the new Fern Valley interchange will be the first diverging diamond interchange in the state, ODOT officials say. Estimated completion date is September 2016.