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Greenway pavement plots remnants of old test

Riding my bike on the Greenway between Medford and Phoenix, I couldn’t help but notice some strange paving of the path. While much of it is normal asphalt, there were also patches of concrete, decomposed granite and some weird plastic-rubbery pavement. What gives? Are these some sort of test pours for future path-paving materials?

— Brian, Medford

Well, Brian, let’s start off by saying that you are quite observant because, yes, those changes in the Greenway path are indeed test plots to determine what surfaces work best or don’t work on portions of the Greenway.

But your powers of observation are a little suspect by Since You Asked standards, because those test plots were created seven years ago.

In 2012, the Jackson County Parks Department was facing dilemmas on what to do about cottonwood roots causing bumps in portions of the Greenway path that made it tough for cyclists, county parks Manager Steve Lambert says.

So the county received a Recreational Trail Program grant to test what materials fared better than the asphalt against root bumps, which can regrow a year after paving.

They tested concrete with rebar, pervious concrete, decomposed granite and rubber-plastic tiles — all of which remain on the test plots on the Greenway between Northridge Terrace and the Phoenix overpass, Lambert says.

They all had their pluses and minuses, Lambert says.

The pervious concrete did well against root bumps but got loose over time, causing some cyclist gripes, Lambert says. The decomposed granite has a tendency to wash out during high-water events along Bear Creek, and the concrete fared well but was, and still is, expensive, he says.

Since those tests seven years ago, the county sticks with asphalt paving but uses concrete in those rare stretches where root bumps are an issue, Lambert says.

Hopefully, this is news to you, Brian, because you’re either new to Medford or new to biking the Greenway.

If that’s not the case, feel free to write to Since You Asked once you discover a large blackbird in a store parking lot on West Main Street in Medford and wonder why it’s there.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.