▶️ City of Bend considers idea of new pedestrian bridge over Highway 97

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One of the City of Bend’s goals in its Transportation System Plan is to create safer ways for pedestrians and cyclists to get from downtown Bend, on the west side, to the east side.

Right now, that’s difficult to do, as Highway 97 and a railroad divide the two sides of town.

“There needs to be a method to get people on foot from downtown to the east side,” Peter Murphy with ODOT said. “So looking around for options, it seems a bridge, an overcrossing, is the right way to go.”

The City of Bend is looking to make such an overcrossing happen. There are plans in the works to use $12.5 million from the recently-approved transportation bond to build a pedestrian bridge on Hawthorne Ave., as well as improve already-in-place under crossings on Franklin Ave. and Greenwood Ave.

City Councilor Anthony Broadman shared a rendering on Twitter of what that overcrossing could look like.

“I think it shows a commitment in our city to ensuring we have a sustainable future,” Broadman said.

Those improvement projects, including the bridge idea, are now gaining support from local state lawmakers.

Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend has proposed spending 2 million dollars of American Rescue Plan on east-west improvement projects.

“My sense is that there’s a lot of momentum in the community, in the business community, in the advocacy community, and in our delegation to make this a reality,” Broadman said.

Allison Platt, a senior planner of the city of Bend, says the two biggest hurdles — community support and base funding — toward making the improvements happen are already out of the way.

“We already know we have public support to move forward with it and we have identified funding that can be used on it, but we’re still in that scoping and conceptual phase where we need to identify what would that actually look like,” Platt said.

The project is still five or more years down the road, according to Platt.

There are still several more steps of approval to go through with various stakeholders, including approval on design ideas, and more funding would ultimately be needed for the bridge, which could cost anywhere from $10 to $20 million dollars, Platt said.

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