Work to cause Dead Indian Memorial Road slowdowns

Motorists will face delays on Dead Indian Memorial Road until Thursday evening as Jackson County Roads and Parks Department crews chip and seal both lanes of its nearly 26-mile stretch of pavement, officials said.

The speed limit on the road will be reduced to 25 mph from its junction with Highway 66 to the Klamath County line during initial construction and for about a week after, said the department's director, John Vial.

Crews Monday morning started work on the westbound lane, from Highway 66 to about 10 miles from Ashland.

Work will not be conducted at night, Vial said.

As small sections of the road are completed one lane at a time, traffic will be stopped for less than 20 minutes so motorists can be guided by a pilot car past machinery.

"It's not real driver-friendly, because you have loose rock, and you have to reduce your speed," Vial said. "But, we just hope people will remember it's a temporary condition, and it's completely the right thing to do with the public's tax dollars."

Chip and sealing paved roads, as opposed to rolling out a new asphalt overlay, is the most cost-effective method counties have to extend the life of their pavements, he said.

The cost of laying new asphalt over a one-mile stretch of two-lane highway costs about $250,000, Vial said. To chip and seal the same stretch costs about $25,000.

A chip-sealed surface has about half the life span of an asphalt surface, Vial said, but most roads can be chipped and sealed several times before needing to be repaved.

In the chip and seal process, liquid asphalt, an emulsion oil, is spread across the road surface and covered with chipped gravel. The surface is then compacted with a roller, and brushed clear of larger gravel.

"Then we'll let traffic run on it for about a week. "… That will help work the rock in, and helps the chip-seal last longer," Vial said.

After traffic compacts the road, crews broom it for a final time, spread a final layer of oil, which turns it black, and compact it with a roller into a finished road.

"Drive cautiously on the chip-seal," Vial said. "Before you know it, we'll be all done."

The repaving effort is one of 15 similar projects the county plans to complete this summer, Vial said, covering about 75 miles of county-maintained road.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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