REEDSPORT — The city of Reedsport has been awarded a grant through the Transportation and Growth Management Program, TGM, along with 14 other communities in Oregon.

The grant will go toward the planning and development of the city’s proposed Dean’s to Dunes multi-use trail system, a pedestrian and cycle-friendly path between the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area and Oregon’s famous dunes at Winchester Bay.

TGM, a joint program with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development, is meant to allow for integrated planning that involves community input.

Reedsport City Manager Jonathan Wright was excited to be awarded the grant.

“We’re kind of in a unique position here. The city of Reedsport is a coastal city, yet we don’t have coastal access other than Highway 101 into Winchester Bay,” Wright said. “So this multi-use trail system plan will help us, at some point in the future, develop a trail that will allow for hikers, bikers, dog walkers and so forth to be able to get to Winchester Bay, or from Winchester Bay to Reedsport.”

The trail could benefit tourists, people unable to drive or anyone who’d like to walk or bike to see the ocean or a herd of elk.

Bicyclists traveling along the coast or Highway 38 will also be able to gain access to the path, according to Wright.

“During some rather narrow road sections, they’ll have an off-highway alternative to safely negotiate through those areas, and of course everything out here has got a beautiful view and is very scenic,” Wright said.

John McDonald, transportation planner with ODOT in Roseburg, helped decide which applicants should receive the grant in Region 3, which includes Southern Oregon. Out of five applicants, Reedsport and Rogue Valley Transportation District in Medford were the two recipients from this region.

“We all recognize the coast as a popular destination area, so having a bicycle-walking path to connect the dunes, which is an incredibly popular area, with the city of Reedsport jumped out at us,” McDonald said.

One of the things TGM tries to do is give people transportation options, including walking, biking or transit. These other forms of transportation also correspond with the state directive to reduce green house gas emissions.

McDonald said Wright does a really good job at advocating for Reedsport, and he and his staff drafted an excellent application.

“We’re really looking forward to working with the city of Reedsport, it’s always a pleasure working with them,” McDonald said. “It’s a community with a real vision for itself.”

Sue Geniesse, senior transportation planner with TGM, said the program was established over 20 years ago to connect transportation and land-use systems in planning processes.

“The importance is you’ve actually thought ahead and you’ve involved all the players who need to be involved,” Geniesse said of working with TGM.

Thirty-nine applicants asked for $5.1 million in grants during this year’s funding cycle. The city of Reedsport requested a grant of $85,000 and an engineering consultant in its application, but will not necessarily be awarded that amount. TGM will scope out the project and consider the work the city is proposing before finalizing its grant award.

“We need to be sure to agree what that work is,” Geniesse said.

Geniesse expects the engineering consultant to be selected by the end of January and the project to be under way by May 1, 2017.

Wright said the city is looking forward to working with whoever is appointed as the engineering consultant, and plans to put together a stakeholder steering group of bicycle enthusiasts and community members involved in trail planning.

The list of the 15 projects that were awarded grants can be found at the oregon.gov website.

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Business, Natural Resources and Outdoors Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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