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Closing the greenway gap

A new section of the Rogue River Greenway connecting the towns of Gold Hill and Rogue River will be ready for running shoes and bike tires by month’s end.

The Rogue River Greenway Foundation will hold a ribbon cutting on a 2.5-mile stretch of Greenway at noon Saturday, Oct. 26, at the intersection of Twin Bridges and North River roads in Rogue River. The public is invited.

Attendees are invited to ride, run or walk on the new path. Cyclists will go first at 12:30 p.m., followed by runners, then walkers. Cyclists can return on North River Road to avoid congestion. The Rogue River Greenway Foundation will provide snacks and drinks.

The new $2.2 million length of multiuse trail will link the railroad crossing on Twin Bridges Road in Rogue River to the north end of Del Rio Vineyard in Gold Hill. It has been under construction since late July, with CPI (formerly Copland Paving) out of Grants Pass doing the work.

The path parallels North River Road, with a majority of the path about 5 feet off the road, said Jackson County engineer Mike Kuntz. At one point, the path pulls back about 30 feet from the road, going through an area of oak and madrone trees.

“Which is a more pleasant experience, and about half a mile or so of it is in that area, pulled away from the road,” Kuntz said.

Most of the project funding came from a $1.8 million federal grant from the Middle Rogue Metropolitan Planning Organization. A $400,000 Oregon Bicycle Pedestrian Program grant and $50,000 in Rogue River Greenway Foundation proceeds paid for the remainder.

About 12 miles of the Greenway is either complete, under construction or has funding secured for development. When the project is complete, the path will boast 30 miles of trail that will connect Grants Pass and Gold Hill, according to the Greenway website, roguerivergreenway.org.

Officials also have plans to eventually link the Rogue River Greenway to the Bear Creek Greenway, the 20-mile stretch that runs between Ashland and Central Point.

First, the Oregon Department of Transportation has to build a portion of the Greenway along Blackwell Road to the Kirtland Road undercrossing. After that, efforts to close the gap between the two greenways should kick off. The goal of having 50 miles of continuous greenway could be up to two decades away, Kuntz said.

“Each step is a little more exciting as you get closer and closer,” Kuntz said, adding that Bear Creek Greenway construction has been underway since the 1970s. “It’s been a long slow process.”

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

Runners make their way along the Rogue River Greenway near Gold Hill during the Gold Dust Run this summer. A new 2.5-mile section of the path between Gold Hill and Rogue River will open Oct. 26. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune