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Bend city officials tour downtown, look at possible street closure sites

Several businesses have applied to make use of sidewalks, parking spots and change traffic patterns

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Street closures in downtown Bend are not uncommon, especially in the summertime. But closing Minnesota Avenue for a different purpose -- to help businesses survive, even thrive -- is not as easy as it seems.

“Street closures are fairly straightforward and simple," said David Abbas, the city's transportation and mobility director. "It happens in downtown Bend, with Summer Fest and special events."

"This is more of a plan to use public right of way while still having the ability for traffic, emergency services, and garbage service and deliveries,” he said.

On Friday, city business, parking and transportation officials met downtown to get a better visual idea of what a street closure could look like. Most of the attention is on a request to turn part of Minnesota Avenue into a one-way eastbound lane.

Abbas said there are many challenges in a project like this, but the No. 1 goal is pedestrian safety.

“If we are moving pedestrians off of a sidewalk and taking a different route, that’s got to be an accessible route, a safe route,” Abbas said.

A number of downtown businesses have applied to repurpose 19 parking spaces. According to Bend’s assistant city manager, those spaces represent less than 1% of the parking spaces in downtown.

City Councilor Chris Piper said it's important to remember any decision that is made will affect businesses citywide and not just downtown.

“We are here to really advocate on behalf of our community, constituents and making sure that what the city is doing is going to be the right thing for the entire city, as well as the downtown core,” Piper said.

No designated ADA parking spaces would be displaced in the current proposal.

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Jordan Williams

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