State grant will go to repairs on greenway

Jackson County has won a $1.26 million state grant to replace almost eight miles of the Bear Creek Greenway that has degraded over almost 40 years of pounding beneath the feet and bicycle tires of its users.

The money came last week from the Oregon Transportation Commission and will allow county crews to tear up the oldest sections of the Greenway and replace them this summer.

The replaced stretches will be through Medford between Crater Lake Highway and Barnett Road, the stretch south of Talent and a less than a mile stretch in Ashland, said John Vial, the county's roads and parks manager.

These sections were some of the original pieces of the Greenway built in the early 1970s, but they suffer from cracks and upheavals caused by roots pushing up the pavement.

"Parts of the trail have reached a point that we can't patch it and we can't keep putting Band-Aids on it," Vial said.

The sections will be torn up and rebuilt in a fashion that should minimize future damage from roots, Vial said.

The money was part of nearly $20 million the commission approved for projects competing through its new Flexible Fund Program.

The program was created at the direction of the 2009 Oregon Legislature as a way to fund nonhighway transportation projects such as bicycle and pedestrian paths and other alternative forms of transit.

This round of funded projects range from projects such as the Greenway to park-and-ride lots and are spread statewide, state transportation officials said.

The winning projects were reviewed by an advisory committee. The only other Southern Oregon project funded was $813,000 for a path near a duck pond in Roseburg.

The money came from the Federal Highway Administration's Surface Transportation Program and did not reduce current funding levels from other programs, according to a state transportation news release.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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