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Traffic signals to help flow at I-5/Beltline.

Byline: Christian Wihtol The Register-Guard

Exiting Interstate 5 northbound at Randy Pap Beltline will become less stressful starting today when the state activates traffic signals to regulate vehicles coming off the interstate as well as eastbound traffic on Beltline.

Right now, three lanes of eastbound traffic on Beltline going across the bridge over I-5 merge with traffic coming from I-5 northbound via the offramp. That can make for potentially dangerous lane shifting, especially for drivers on the offramp who enter and cross eastbound lanes of Beltline preparing to maneuver through the Beltline and Gateway Street intersection.

The new traffic lights will change all that, turning the merger into a regular signaled intersection.

Traffic coming off I-5 will stack up behind red lights at the top of the ramp while eastbound traffic along Beltline will proceed. And drivers along Beltline will have to sit tight behind a red light while the stackup of exit-ramp cars clears.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Little said there's plenty of room on the I-5 offramp to accommodate a high volume of traffic.

The lights will be coordinated with the lights at Beltline and Gateway, he said. The city of Springfield will be in charge of programming the lights, he said.

The lights already are up and will be activated about 9 p.m. today, weather permitting.

The new traffic signal at the top of the I-5 exit ramp will not affect the dedicated right-turn lane of the exit ramp that allows cars to move directly to southbound Gateway Street.

The transportation department stressed that activation of the lights depends on dry weather for placement of a magnetic loop detector, and as of Wednesday afternoon the department was anticipating that the activiation would go ahead as planned.

Loop detectors are sensors sealed into the pavement to measure the volume of traffic and adjust signal timing accordingly.

Other finishing touches with this phase of the multiyear I-5 and Beltline makeover are:

Activating a TripCheck camera.

Installing landscaping and irrigation.

Final striping.

Placing median barriers on Beltline Road east of Gateway Street.

But the highway department is not close to finished with the I-5/Beltline revamp. The agency still has two more phases totaling about $110 million.

The next phase, which goes out to bid next year and will be constructed in 2013-14, includes a new I-5 southbound to westbound Beltline off ramp; a new I-5 southbound to eastbound Beltline offramp; a new westbound Beltline to southbound I-5 onramp; and a new Beltline bridge over I-5. Money for this $70 million collection of work is already in place, Little said.

The final phase includes an eastbound Beltine auxiliary lane from Coburg Road to the southbound I-5 onramp; a sound wall on the south side of Beltline, east of Coburg Road; and an eastbound Beltline to northbound I-5 onramp. Only partial funding has been lined up for that $40 million roster of work. State officials hope for completion in 2014.
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Title Annotation:Local News; The new lights will make it easier for vehicles coming off the northbound interstate to merge
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 30, 2011
Words:492
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