Built for a Disney movie and loved by locals, the famed Hixon Bridge at Shevlin Park is officially coming down.
Bend Park and Recreation District officials said Wednesday crews started removing the side panels of the wooden covered bridge this week. Monday, a machine will lift the roof off in sections. The decking will stay for several weeks to be used by the construction team to access the Larch Bridge for improvement work there.
The original Hixon Bridge was built in 1917 and updated in 1957.
It’s been a popular and much-photographed spot in the park for more than 25 years – after the Walt Disney Co. built a roof over the existing bridge so it could be used in the 1993 film “Homeward Bound.”
But it wasn’t built to last and is nearing the end of its lifespan. Additionally, the bridge was having a negative impact on the creek that runs beneath it.
“The narrow bridge abutments of the Hixon Bridge pinch the creek channel and have eroded the creek banks,” according to the project overview from BPRD. “This has cutoff the natural floodplain of Tumalo Creek. By removing these barriers, the creek can retake its natural floodplain.”
The removal is part of a $700,000 park-improvement project.
According to the project overview from BPRD:
“The popularity of Shevlin Park is taking a toll with wear and tear on its resources, as well as user conflict with the increased variety of ways patrons use the park. In 2014, the District developed a Recreational Management Plan with input from the community to review these issues and provide a more positive balance between use and experience while conserving the park’s abundant resources.
Work is underway to develop a new signage program for way finding, park rules, and interpretive storylines.
In addition, the district is improving accessibility, including a new accessible trail from the restrooms to the picnic area. There will also be upgrades to the Aspen Hall parking area, and trail and bridge upgrades at Larch Bridge. The old covered Hixon Bridge will be decommissioned as part of the project, allowing for creek restoration. The environmental improvements are significant, and will result in improved water quality and wildlife habitat along the banks of Tumalo Creek.”