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Greenway needs a safe crossing

There is no excuse for making path users brave Barnett Road

People planning the new south Medford freeway interchange and changes to nearby Barnett Road sound iffy about the likelihood of a route for the Bear Creek Greenway under Barnett.

Might be hard to pull off, they say. Might cost a lot.

And this would be different from any other part of the interchange project how?

How is it that we can spend the better part of a decade and $70 million on a freeway interchange and yet still not have money to build a safe passage there for Greenway users?

The alternative is that people using the path would emerge from it next to the creek either north or south of Barnett. They could head east to Highland Drive, the intersection where the new interchange will empty onto city streets, and cross with the light. Then they could backtrack to the west to pick up the main path by the creek again. Or they could say to heck with the detour and make a run for it across four lanes of Barnett traffic. Maybe they'd make it.

It would be the only point along the trail's 18.5-mile length that users would be exposed to such a dangerous crossing. In most places where the trail crosses a busy street, it goes underneath, as it should here. It's worse yet that this plan comes in Medford, the city capable of providing more Greenway users than any other.

Now, as the interchange and a new bridge across the creek at Barnett Road are being planned, is the time for parties involved in these projects to sit down and work out how to incorporate the underpass. Waiting will mean a costly fix or worse &

8212; an accident involving a pedestrian or a bicyclist attempting to dodge drivers.

Greenway fans have shown they are able to raise money for the path. Perhaps they could join this effort to make the underpass happen.

We hear all the time how special the Greenway is, how rare its success in establishing a long public connection between cities. But the Greenway has never just happened &

8212; it's always been a matter of looking for ways to make another piece of the project move forward.

That's the attitude that's necessary to get an underpass built as well.