Plans for a new bike and pedestrian path along Larson Creek could get a boost with federal dollars even though Medford officials have struggled to get right-of-way donations.

Plans for a new bike and pedestrian path along Larson Creek could get a boost with federal dollars even though Medford officials have struggled to get right-of-way donations.

A $500,000 federal earmark for the project is in danger of expiring in September if the city of Medford doesn't show progress in developing a plan for the trail.

The proposed Larson Creek Greenway would connect with the Bear Creek Greenway and run parallel with Barnett Road to the east, eventually extending for two miles to North Phoenix Road, then into other trails that would be part of the southeast plan.

The new path would provide an alternative route for cyclists and pedestrians wanting to avoid busy Barnett Road by traveling through a mostly residential area.

A study in 2007 by Alta Planning and Design of Portland determined the cost to build the entire trail at $1.7 million.

The Medford Public Works Department had hoped right-of-way donations could have been part of the project to offset costs. But discussions with property owners haven't generated any offers of right-of-way donations.

Without the donations, the city has decided to proceed with the project to help secure the federal funding, said Cory Crebbin, public works director.

Originally the $500,000 earmark was designated for the pedestrian bridge over Barnett. But project costs came in lower than expected and federal stimulus dollars helped pay for that project.

Crebbin said the city successfully changed the earmark so it could be used for the Bear Creek Greenway instead of just for the bridge.

The city is now trying to convince federal transportation officials to apply the earmark to the Larson Creek trail where it intersects with the Bear Creek Greenway.

Crebbin said the city estimates the $500,000 would pay for a path that would start at the Bear Creek Greenway and go east along Larson Creek to Ellendale Drive, a distance of less than a half-mile.

Crebbin said the city expects it will take several weeks before federal officials respond to the earmark request.

If approved, right-of-way acquisition, environmental review and other planning could take up to two years, Crebbin said.

Al Densmore, Medford city councilman, said that once the Larson Creek Greenway is started it could prompt additional funding to help complete the project.

"We'll see if that activity will leverage more activity," he said. "The main thing is to get it started."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.