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Bridge proposal may not achieve its goal

State is right to take its time before proceeding with I-5 foot crossing

State transportation officials and Rep. Dennis Richardson are on the right path in taking a go-slow approach to a proposal for a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5 in Central Point. We suspect that at the end of that path, they'll find a different solution.

The proposed foot bridge would provide access to the Jackson County Expo Park from Central Point, in theory reducing traffic congestion at the Expo and improving safety for area residents.

The discussion of a pedestrian bridge is rooted in a 2001 tragedy in which a 9-year-old boy was killed trying to cross the freeway to visit a friend's house. It's also pushed by memories of cars backed up onto I-5 during fair week at the Expo or on the evenings of big concerts.

But common sense may be kicking in here. It turns out there's not much in the way of parking on the city side of the proposed bridge, so Expo visitors would have to park at a distance and take a shuttle. That option already exists, with the shuttles going directly to the fairgrounds, so it seems a stretch that people would ride the shuttle and then walk even farther.

We understand the concern about safety, given the tragedy of the boy's death. But the price tag of &

36;4 million (which, if history is a guide, almost certainly would go up) gives us pause. Not that it's too expensive, but rather that if the state is going to spend that kind of money to safeguard kids, there are probably other projects that would go much further toward that end.

In fact, we think the state definitely should put a higher priority on improving I-5's Upton Road overpass, which now regularly carries kids on foot and on bicycle, as they make their way toward town from subdivisions on the east side of the freeway. The new bridge would include sidewalks and bike lanes.

— Richardson, who pushed for the pedestrian bridge during the last legislative session and has continued discussions with state transportation officials, says he wants to hear more from the public about the idea.

You can't go wrong with that, but we also hope state officials ' elected and otherwise ' will make sure their own common sense is engaged. If spending millions of dollars doesn't reduce congestion and doesn't produce the maximum safety benefit, the state should shift its energy and money elsewhere.

Rescuing Diamond Lake

When you put off necessary repairs, the price tag almost always goes up. That's exactly what's happened at one of our favorite mountain lakes.

Dealing with the curse of the chub at Diamond Lake has become an expensive proposition. Once deemed the Gem of the Cascades for its beauty and splendid trout fishing, the Douglas County lake has declined drastically from an infestation of small, plankton-eating tui chubs illegally introduced in the early 1990s.

A fix has been determined, but more funds are needed. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates it will cost &

36;5.5 million to treat the lake with rotenone, oversee monitoring of the water and stock the lake with trout. An additional &

36;1.8 million is still needed, which the ODFW hopes to raise through its foundation, Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

You can help restore the luster of Diamond Lake by contributing to the fund. You may donate on line by going to the foundation's Web site at (click on Memberships/Donations and then on Help Restore Diamond Lake) or by mailing contributions marked for Diamond Lake, to Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 30406, Portland, OR 97294.