A long-sought final link for the Bear Creek Greenway should get started this year after transportation officials received word Thursday that bids came in under budget for a pedestrian bridge over Barnett Road.

A long-sought final link for the Bear Creek Greenway should get started this year after transportation officials received word Thursday that bids came in under budget for a pedestrian bridge over Barnett Road.

Gresham-based MJ Hughes Construction Co. had the lowest of eight offers at $1.66 million, less than the $1.85 million that was available to fund construction.

“That’s really good news,” said Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler Thursday at a City Council meeting. Wheeler earlier this year had hoped the bid would come in around $1.7 million.

The steel span will cross Barnett at Highland Avenue next to the dog park, which the city has proposed moving to make way for a new aquatic center.

The bridge will use about $1 million in federal stimulus dollars, and the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation has contributed $100,000. The remainder will be funded by other federal money for projects that help improve air quality.

The 21-mile Greenway originates at the dog park in Ashland and terminates at the Seven Oaks interchange in Central Point.

Transportation officials had budgeted $2.3 million to build the span, allowing for $450,000 for design, engineering and inspections.

Some Greenway supporters have steadfastly refused to say the Greenway is complete until the pedestrian bridge at busy Barnett is completed.

“There is no question that there was one key thing we wanted to get done and that was this bridge,” Greenway Foundation Director Lee Mills said.

He said the span provides safe passage for Greenway users who will not have to compete with traffic on Barnett. It also will encourage more people to go to the new sports park, he said.

While the bridge will provide a safe way to ride or walk from Ashland to Central Point, Mills said there is still a section of trail that needs to be built at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Exposition Park.

The pedestrian bridge will have a 155-foot steel truss that will span Barnett.

On the southwest corner of Highland and Barnett, a 300-foot long approach will be built to provide easy access to the bridge. On the northwest corner, the approach will be built parallel to Barnett for about 300 feet to the west. By building the approach at a right angle to the span, it will allow for the construction of a proposed aquatic park.

Cory Crebbin, Medford Public Works director, said the project could require tearing up some of the sidewalks that have been built as part of the south Medford interchange.

Brian Sjothun, Medford Parks and Recreation director, said the bridge will require moving the dog park fence about 10 to 15 feet to the north.
“A section of the dog park will be closed,” he said.

Eventually, the fencing on the other side of the dog park will be moved to regain the lost section, Sjothun said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.