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City of Bend draws big crowd at open house for Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings feasibility study

(Update: Adding video and comments from open house)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A city of Bend open house on the Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings Feasibility Study drew a big crowd Wednesday night, as the Open Space Event Studios was packed with people eager to learn more about the project, and share their thoughts on the concepts drawn up so far.

The purpose of the study is to identify what’s possible for new and improved crossings of the U.S. Highway 97 Bend Parkway and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for walking and bicycling in Bend’s Midtown. This study will look at three crossing locations: Greenwood, Hawthorne and Franklin avenues.

I asked Rory Rowan, the City of Bend's Project Manager, if inflation is a worry and could scale back what can be achieved.

"Inflation is definitely becoming more of a concern with design and construction right now in this environment," Rowan said. "But one of the reasons we're really asking the public feedback is to help guide us on where the best use of the dollars will be."

People were able to fill out a survey, sharing their thoughts on what they saw and heard.

Some avid bikers are looking for different options.

Bend resident Eric Holscher said, "I think the biggest thing is that we're a little disappointed that there are no protected bike lanes, so there's a lot of buffering with very little physical protection, which is really what we're advocating for."

Lynd Wieman, another Bend resident, said, "They need to make sure that what the safety factors really are and maybe making people safe would be done by education rather than expensive infrastructure."

The open house included an overview of the project, design concepts, timelines and an opportunity to speak to the project team. This study is the first step in the project and will help inform all future action to make the crossing over the parkway a reality.

Those who didn't make it in person can visit and weigh in on an online open house at bendoregon.gov/midtowncrossings  through July 3.

In November 2020, Bend voters passed a General Obligation Transportation Bond (GO Bond), which included $12 million for the Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings improvements.

The Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings project is one of many GO Bond improvement projects throughout the city. Learn more at bendoregon.gov/gobond.

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.

Comments

26 Comments

  1. It’s good to see what is in effect a housing tax being applied towards all people and not just motorists. I cringe at the terrible access that east side kids have to the river and downtown.

    1. The obese portion of the populace (60 percent of adults according to the CDC which they of course hate) will be outraged by this massive government over each and total waste of taxpayer dollars!!

      1. They will certainly want to put a special tax on people under 16, people with disabilities or too old to really be driving, and the unpatriotic ones that simply don’t drive or drive as little as possible! It’s the my car, my right of way, my tax dollars and your property taxes for me crowd.

  2. Before you boomers cry about taxes being spent blah blah blah, remember you should first cry at this meeting, not on the comments section of a newspaper. Also of note:
    “In November 2020, Bend voters passed a General Obligation Transportation Bond (GO Bond) which included $12 million for the Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings improvements.”

      1. The cars seem to be doing fine. The cyclists should be footing the bill. That said, encouraging bicycles has no real downside. It is healthier, costs less, and doesn’t pollute. To make things safer, new roads should be constructed with bike lanes. Existing roads, when being updated should get bike lanes where possible. Bikes should stay in these lanes and off of the roads. Separating bikes from traffic makes it safer and more enjoyable for everyone. It is a lack of good bike lanes that mixes bikes and cars for the most part. I know when I’m riding I greatly prefer dedicated bike lanes to roads with cars when possible. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible on the vast majority of our roads. This project seems like a good one, but I do feel that cyclists should be paying more of the associated costs.

        1. But don’t cars have liability insurance to pay for what they destroy? Like the basic safety in our public right of ways, our peace and quiet and clean air and water? I would think a judge could order compensation for the less driving population. That would include protected infrastructure for people that shouldn’t or can’t be driving.

        2. How would you charge cyclists so they pay the bill? Oh probably property taxes. How many landowners cycle? Well a very high percentage cycle leisurely so we’re probably covered by the existing tax structure.

  3. What a waste of money. Franklin and Greenwood underpasses are only a stones throw away. Take 2% of the proposed money and fix up the two underpasses. Problem solved.

    1. Cyclists prefer tunnels over bridges, I know there’s challenges putting a tunnel through rock but its not that hard. Tunnels are much easier for cyclists to cross since you gain momentum going down first. Clearance for bridges is 18+ ft while a tunnel only needs 8 ft for the cyclists.

        1. That is true, flooding should be easily mitigated but its clear that the city would rather close the road tunnels on the rare occasion they flood rather than invest in a few pumps or other measures.

  4. I was really disappointed that the crowd was TOTALLY UNMASKED (save for one Pro-Science guy) – I wanted to hang out and see what’s going on, but the MAGA crew from the city council and Bend cyclists was out in full force, denying the science of masking in the face of a HUGE SURGE in cases in Deschutes County.

    They say they want to be inclusive but those of us who actually trust science know that it wasn’t a safe space. I’m assuming that it will end up in the books as a superspreader event which is a shame because it should have been safe for all.

        1. The report hints that the planners are anti-tunnel in general, they comment that pedestrians “don’t like tunnels” and they inflated a tunnel cost at hawthorne to $10m while likely underestimating a bridge at $5m. Well pedestrians also “don’t like bridges, unless you love climbing up over 20 ft vertical to then cross through a 200 ft long cage over the highway” so we have two options that pedestrians don’t like and cyclists really don’t like bridges.

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