A contest to come up with the “ultimate” Bend T-shirt aims to raise money to finish a bike and pedestrian footbridge that was approved a decade ago, but has stalled for years. The bridge would connect the Deschutes River Trail to Southwest Bend.
Local artists and designers are being asked to come up with their best idea for a shirt that represents Bend.
Connect Bend is doing the contest to launch its Bridge the Gap campaign. Its goal is to make it so people have access to Bend’s outdoors without having to get in a car.
One of those trouble areas is in Southwest Bend and Deschutes River Woods. It sits just on the other side of the Deschutes River from Deschutes National Forest. With no bridge over the river, that means those folks have to go all the way down Brookswood Boulevard to Reed Market Road and then up to Century Drive.
A 2012 Bend Park and Recreation bond measure was approved by voters. A petition in favor of the footbridge gathered more than 3,000 signatures.
Efforts in Salem to ban the bridge failed in 2018. Ultimately, BPRD had to forego the project after it was unable to get approval.
“It wasn’t going to be possible in the short-term to get the approval to build the bridge because the Forest Service owns certain parts of the land, and the other people who own the land did not want to build,” former board member Ted Schoenborn told Central Oregon Daily News in October 2021. “The land that’s in the Forest Service is in a ‘Wild & Scenic Rivers Designation’, and the land that’s inside the city limits is privately owned, and not publicly owned.”
“Southern communities have been underserved for too long. It’s that simple,” Larry White, a member of Connect Bend’s Board of Directors, said in a statement Wednesday. “The footbridge project was derailed by a tiny number of vocal opponents, when thousands of people would benefit. And we’re now seeing just how underserved these communities have been. It’s time for the city and for BPRD to stand up for what’s right.”
The winning T-shirt design will be announced Aug. 24 at Austin Mercantile in Brookswood Plaza, located near where the bridge would be placed. The hope is to have them available for sale that day on-site and then, later, at other retailers including Lotus Moon Boutique, Scout and Pine, Clementine Urban Mercantile and Sunnyside Sports.
Instructions on how to enter the contest can be found here.