Pathway under Barnett proved unfeasible

I don't really object to the look of the new pedestrian bridge, but it surprises me that they didn't build the greenway trail under the new Barnett Road bridge over Bear Creek. It seems like it would have been a lot cheaper alternative. Was this project just designed to take advantage of stimulus dollars?

— Lauren S., Medford

You're not suggesting this is a bridge to nowhere, are you Lauren? Actually, the idea of building the trail under Barnett has been much discussed over the years. In fact, Medford officials hoped to build it under the Barnett overpass. After much study, the City Council discovered that the idea you're suggesting, Lauren, was fraught with problems, such as acquiring private property for the right of way, environmental concerns and safety issues because there would only be 8 feet of clearance under the overpass. Occasional flooding also would block passage under the overpass, and that route would require more maintenance than the pedestrian bridge.

In 2009, Medford received a $39,000 report from OBEC Consulting Engineers of Eugene, which studied seven options to cross Barnett. The report substantiated an earlier report that found the pedestrian bridge to be the best option.

The $2.3 million bridge did receive about $1 million in federal stimulus dollars, plus another million dollars in federal funds linked to clean air initiatives (bicycling and walking being cleaner than car driving). By the way, Lauren, cost estimates for a pedestrian bridge and a pathway under Barnett were roughly similar.

As long as we're talking about the bridge, somebody else asked how high the bridge was above the roadway. The answer: 17 feet at its lowest point.

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