Pathway “missing link” soon to be bridged

A critical “missing link” between the east and west sides of the Snake River in Jackson Hole will no longer be missed early next year when construction on a new pathway bridge is completed.

The bridge, just north of the existing Highway 22 bridge, eventually will connect a pathway network in and around the Town of Jackson with pathways on the west side of the river to Wilson and Teton Village.

The bridge is part of a planned pathway segment running east along Highway 22 to town. Planned for many years, it has been dubbed “the missing link” by pathways supporters looking forward to connecting the two sides of the valley’s expanding pathways network.

County officials chose a separate pathway bridge, instead of waiting for an expanded road bridge to be built, after acquiring land on the west side of the river needed to complete the plan. The bridge will span from the Emily’s Pond public area on the east side to the new Rendezvous Park on the river’s west side.

Teton County voters in 2008 overwhelmingly approved $6 million for the bridge and a new pathway segment along Highway 22. Jackson Hole residents have strongly supported an expanding pathway network during the past 20-plus years. In 2012, voters approved another $4.3 million for the project. Jackson Hole Community Pathways secured an additional $3 million in federal grants for the project, bringing total funding to nearly $14 million.

As bridge construction got under way in March, a separate construction crew simultaneously began work on a busy downtown intersection project. Part of that project includes a new pathway along Highway 89, which will run south and connect with the Highway 22 section.

The bridge, Jackson intersection and portions of the Highway 89 paths are expected to be completed this year or early next year. The Highway 22 pathway will be completed in phases, beginning this year.