Some of those who have driven past the temporary home of the new Greenway bridge have noted it seems very wide. We’ve also heard grumbling that it’s ugly.

The metal span that will arch over Barnett Road sits near the intersection of Center Drive and Garfield, just off the new south Medford freeway interchange. We happened by the other day and were struck by how attractive the new span is. It is metal, but treated to look as if it were constructed of wooden timbers — much preferable to yet another cast concrete overpass. The arch is gradual and graceful.

The width is striking at first, but imagine two cyclists crossing in opposite directions — especially if one is a tricycle — and the extra room makes sense. It also will be handy to be able to drive maintenance vehicles over the car and truck traffic rather than through it.

We’ve provided photos of the bridge for the benefit of those who haven’t had the chance to see it.
Beauty is, of course, a subjective concept. Not everyone will find this bridge attractive. But we hope everyone will reserve judgment until the span is lifted into place. It will seem much less imposing once it is arcing over Barnett Road.

We understand the frustration of those who see public spending for any purpose as a waste of money while the federal government drowns in debt. But the cost of this structure is not out of line. Nearly half the $2.3 million cost is being covered by stimulus funds, which are providing jobs for the crews working to build the bridge.

The long-term benefit of an uninterrupted bike and pedestrian path stretching from Ashland to Central Point is well worth the investment today.