Sure, the Ravine Bridge allows for cars to travel over a walking path beneath Ravine Parkway in Cottage Grove.

But local officials say the newly opened span also is symbolic of a strong connection between Washington County and the city of Cottage Grove, and a desire to make government services more accessible for residents.

City and county leaders formally opened the Ravine Bridge during a brief ceremony Saturday. The bridge is along Ravine Parkway east of Highway 19/Keats Avenue between the Washington County South Service Center and the new Cottage Grove City Hall, set to open later this month.

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said the project is a product of the city's East Ravine Planning Study from 2003-05, which developed a concept of preserving scenic and natural areas for the public to enjoy and to providing for development opportunities on the remainder of the land.

Washington County Commissioner Autumn Lehrke said the bridge is an accumulation of seven years of work dating to 2005 when a "public services campus" was envisioned for land in the Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park.

"It's a statement to the partnership the county and city have to bring county services closer to home," she said.

The project involved the city, county, South Washington Watershed District and other agencies. The bridge deck, surrounding roadway, utility improvements and accompanying upgrades to Highway 19 north of 90th Street cost roughly $2.3 million, according to the city.

The city of Cottage Grove paid for its share of the project using state-allocated road funds. Those funds are collected through the state's gasoline tax.

"Local city tax dollars did not pay for this road," Bailey said.

The bridge and surrounding roadway was designed to embrace the surrounding environment, Bailey said of the sloping hills and wooded areas in the regional park.

"We definitely wanted to make this part of our community special," he said.

The project includes unique stormwater management features because of the landscape, said Matt Moore, director of the South Washington Watershed District. For instance, the bridge sits lower than a stormwater collection system on the City Hall site, so native plants and other natural filters are located along the banks of the ravine near the bridge in order to filter stormwater from the bridge deck.

Moore said a variety of stormwater management techniques ensure that there is nearly no stormwater discharge from the multi-acre site that includes the South Service Center, City Hall and Ravine Bridge. Stormwater either will be collected and used for irrigation or infiltrates the ground on site, he said.