Since You Asked: Going under overpass with bike route had problems

I read the article on the pedestrian bridge at Barnett Road and thought it was interesting and well done. There's only one thing I did not see and have not seen: Why was the bridge built in the first place, versus being routed under the new Barnett Road/Bear Creek bridge?

Several of the pedestrian/bike path trails are under the Bear Creek bridges, such as Highway 62, Jackson Street, 10th Street, etc.

— Ken D., Medford

Believe it or not, Ken, the city of Medford wanted to go under the Barnett Road overpass as you have suggested. And, believe it or not, the Mail Tribune has written about the idea of going under the overpass before. As with many notions, the devil's in the details.

After much study, the City Council discovered that the idea you're suggesting 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.

Ken, you're probably thinking that even though the report doesn't justify what you think or the City Council thinks, for that matter, it's a necessary part of receiving the money for the project. If the city decided to go with the underpass option, it would fly in the face of the report, which federal and state officials rely upon to make their decisions.

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 to promote bicycling and walking. By the way, the cost estimates for a pedestrian bridge and a pathway under Barnett were roughly similar.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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