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Larson Creek trail to be rebuilt

Crumbling asphalt along a portion of the Larson Creek Multi-Use Path in east Medford has resulted in a bumpy ride for cyclists.

The city received the green light to repave the worst section of the trail from Black Oak Drive to Murphy Road at a cost of $800,000.

The Larson Creek Multi-Use Path will be rebuilt. The trail branches off from the Bear Creek Greenway near the Bridge over Barnett Road.

“It was just an old section of trail, it had pretty much deteriorated,” said John Vial, Medford Public Works director.

An Oregon Community Paths grant, administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation, will provide $560,000 toward the project, with the remainder being allocated in the city’s 2021-23 budget. The city share comes from gas taxes.

Vial said the first step will be to design the new trail before construction can begin.

Under the grant agreement with the state, the project has to be completed by 2023.

Bulging tree roots and broken asphalt have become unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists, who use the path as an alternative to riding along busy Barnett Road. The trail branches off from the Bear Creek Greenway near the Bridge over Barnett Road.

Barnett has a daily traffic volume of 38,000 vehicles in some areas, with speeds over 35 mph.

In 2007, after other portions of the trail were completed, an assessment of the trail system noted that the Black Oak to Murphy section already needed to be repaved.

Since 2020, additional segments of the multi-use path have been built, adding more traffic onto the older portions near Black Oak Drive.

A bridge on this old section of trail is also due for an upgrade, including railing and deck work as well as getting rid of a lip where it connects to the trail.

The city doesn’t anticipate widening Barnett, so Larson Creek will remain the best way to travel through this area of Medford for cyclists and pedestrians.

This section of trail was one of the first portions built sometime before 2003.

Vial said no funding is available yet to complete the trail to North Phoenix Road, but he said the city will continue to look for ways to fund the project.

Ultimately, the roughly two-mile trail system will go from Bear Creek to North Phoenix Road, where it will connect with other trails to the east. About two-thirds of the Larson Creek Trail has been completed.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.