State grants fund local construction projects

Pedestrians will stroll on sidewalks to take in Britt Festivals performances in Jacksonville, and Rogue River Greenway users will find a trail from Gold Hill to Rock Point Bridge — thanks to $2.3 million from a state fund.

The Jackson County grants were part of $14.3 million awarded statewide by the Oregon Transportation Commission. Since 1992, the commission's transportation enhancement program has paid for 180 projects, including sidewalks, bike paths, historic bridge restoration and interpretative sites. This year, 14 projects were selected from 91 applications.

The new addition to the Rogue River Greenway will extend the trail about three-quarters of a mile from Gold Hill and will include a separate bridge over Sardine Creek for pedestrians and cyclists.

The section of trail will extend to Del Rio Vineyard and Winery and be built on land between Highway 234 and the Rogue River.

The federal grant provides $1.5 million for the $1.9 million Greenway project, which is also in line to receive money from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

With the new section of Greenway, about 12 miles of a proposed 30-mile trail connecting Central Point to Grants Pass would have been built or scheduled for construction. Ultimately, trail proponents hope to link the Rogue River Greenway with the existing Bear Creek Greenway for a continuous bike and walking path from Ashland to Grants Pass. The Bear Creek Greenway is completed from Ashland to the Rogue River, north of Central Point.

The Gold Hill section is "one of the many pieces that we are connecting," said Shayne Maxwell, chairwoman of the Rogue River Greenway Foundation.

She said the new Greenway is being built in sections that don't always connect because of a variety of factors, including community support and environmental issues.

"You build a piece here and a piece there, and then you fill in the gaps," she said.

In Jacksonville, pedestrians will finally get a sidewalk to use when they walk from downtown to the Britt grounds, site of the annual Britt Festivals music and dance series.

The state will provide $855,000 of the $1.1 million project, which is being partially paid for by the city of Jacksonville. The project is a joint effort with the Britt Festivals.

Pat Fisher, program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said 400 feet of sidewalk will be built on Main Street from Oregon Street to just past First Street. Another 650 feet of sidewalk would be built on First, from Main Street to Fir Street.

Fisher said the sidewalks would be 6 feet wide, allowing enough space for a wheelchair and pedestrians.

In addition, the project would include bicycle parking, benches, lighting and two pedestrian plaza areas.

Fisher said the design of the projects will be completed in 2010, with construction beginning in 2011 or 2012. Both projects should be finished in 2012, she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail

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