CRESWELL – If you’re familiar with Creswell, you’re familiar with maneuvering expertly through The Jog. If you’re visiting Creswell for the first time, The Jog can definitely be an intimidating part of your drive.
The Jog is what Mill Street to Front Street on Oregon Avenue is commonly called. This area in question is on both the City of Creswell and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)’s radar for necessary transportation improvement, but there simply isn’t money to fund the project at the moment.
“It basically is two intersections that are joined by – we call it The Jog but it’s more of a Z – and those two intersections are relatively close together. And what makes the intersection a little more interesting is that, not only is it close together, but there’s a railroad running right through almost the middle of one of the intersections,” said Vidal Francis, who is the area 5 manager for ODOT.
As The Jog is ODOT property since it is considered part of Highway 99, the City can only improve it with assistance from ODOT and funding through federal grants, for example. The most recent improvements to The Jog were completed about two years ago by ODOT in the form of updating sidewalks and ADA ramps more so on Front Street, according to Francis.
“We’ve done some (improvements), but there’s more to be done, and it’s taken time. If we had the money right now, we would complete all of the improvements on Front Street and Mill Street,” Francis said.
Francis said improving The Jog could be a “landmark opportunity for the City.”
To signify its importance, councilor Shelley Clark has been inviting stakeholders to join her on a walk through The Jog, showing how dangerous and nerve-racking walking those streets can be for pedestrians and how difficult it can be for those behind the wheel to navigate.
“Councilor Clark has done a really great job at trying to bring attention to the intersections,” Francis said. “All of that brings what I would call ‘wholesome attention’ to The Jog so that other folks who have connections could reach out (and) then have various pots of money to see what we could come together (so) we could help try to fund something.”
Lane County commissioner Heather Buch and Representative Charlie Conrad recently joined Clark on a walk. Buch said The Jog still “needs a lot of work” but that “it’s challenging when you have a main street going through your town that you can’t control internally as a city.”
“It’s really the state agency that has jurisdiction on whether to do the work or not. In the meantime, they just keep touching it up as best they can, but it really needs investment by the state,” Buch said. “We’ve been working with how to elevate (the City of Creswell’s) application and the grant process of funding, and unfortunately, it doesn’t rise to the same level as many others because (the state is) really are looking at the (projects) that need the highest investment, and those are often those that have had deaths or major acccidents on them. What we’re trying to do is prevent those from happening in the first place.”
Conrad said once Creswell is able to update its transportation plan with data to show how much money the City needs, he will be able to ask for funding at the state level.
“I would love to be able to advocate for (Creswell) and hopefully got some money coming their way in the future legislative session,” Conrad said.
Clark said that ODOT equates a loss of life to $11.5 million, and the work she would like to see done on The Jog is roughly $12 million.
“The argument that I would make is that we’re talking about a half-a-million dollar (difference) to be able to save lives,” Clark said.
Buch urges those at the state level to consider Creswell’s improvement of The Jog as important, even though it hasn’t caused deaths or major injuries yet.
“Our local roads, much like county roads, continue to need investment. The Creswell project is a prime example of trying to prevent needless accidents and deaths on a road because it’s easy to envision with The Jog how that could happen, and how easily it could happen,” Buch said. “We don’t want to have the grid elevated just because we lost a citizen there. Preventative measures are often those cases that can have the most value in the future.”