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City of Bend receives nearly $25 million for bike and pedestrian-only Hawthorne Crossing project

(Update: Adding video, comments from city management analyst)

Mayor says funds may 'move up the timeline' for new cross-town connection

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The City of Bend was just awarded about $25 million in state and federal dollars for its landmark Hawthorne Avenue Pedestrian and Bicyclist Overcrossing project, a key new cross-town walking and biking connection now in the planning stages.

Close to $20 million in funding comes through the federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program. Additionally, through House Bill 5030, in which money is allocated to local priorities across Oregon, the state Legislature allocated $5 million for the Hawthorne Overcrossing.

City of Bend Senior Management Analyst Sarah Hutson told us on Tuesday, "It's really going to connect downtown Bend to Bend's Central District by providing safe and comfortable walking and biking opportunities." 

This project is supported by the Bend Chamber of Commerce, Central Oregon LandWatch, the Bend Central District Business Association and many other local, state and federal agencies and organizations.

 "It's really looking to cross the railroad and the Parkway, to connect into the local street network on either side. I believe it'll connect to Second Street on the east and Hill Street on the west," Hutson said. "It's really going to unlock the potential of the core area of Bend, catalyze much-needed mixed-use development and housing and employment opportunities."

As of now, there's no timetable for when the project will break ground, or be completed. But details like the bridge's span, width and height will be determined in the near future.

“The Midtown Crossings are vital to catalyzing redevelopment of Bend’s Central District and Core Area. These key areas of our City will accommodate more of Bend’s rapid growth in ways that deliver complete communities – places with more affordable housing options close to essential services, with nature nearby and convenient, safe ways to get around that don’t always require a car,” said Corie Harlan, Cities & Towns Program Manager of Central Oregon LandWatch. “This funding for the critical and transformative Hawthorne Overcrossing project will help ensure Bend is a more equitable, healthy, and climate-resilient place for all.”

“The Hawthorne Overcrossing is so much more than a transportation project,” said Katy Brooks, CEO of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. “It is a significant step forward for economic development in the Central District and Downtown and joins two sides of the parkway that invites people to regularly travel between east and west whether that’s by walking, riding, or rolling. It will be a centerpiece in Bend.”

The Hawthorne Overcrossing will be a pedestrian and bicycle only crossing that will provide a much-needed connection over Highway 97 and the railroad for east-west travel. The overcrossing will connect Downtown and the Bend Central District by providing safe and comfortable walking and biking opportunities.

“We are committed to sustainably and equitably reconnecting our city—east and west. The Hawthorne Bridge is the key link in this effort,” said Bend City Councilor  Anthony Broadman.  “This investment is the single biggest step in building a city and connected transportation system that works for all of us."

The Hawthorne Overcrossing is part of the larger Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing project, which seeks to improve east-west connectivity through safer walking and biking connections across the railroad and the parkway at Hawthorne, Franklin and Greenwood Avenues.

More information on the Midtown Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings can be found at

Here's the congressional delegation's announcement of the federal funding, with comments from Mayor Melanie Kebler:

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer, announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding a total of nearly $45 million in federal funding from their Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program to projects in Hood River, Bend, and Jackson County.  

“Reimagining Oregon road projects benefit every Oregonian trying to get from point A to point B, while expanding job growth in communities that are in desperate need of updated transportation routes,” said Senator Merkley. “These RAISE grants will help create safer, more accessible, more efficient transportation for all—a goal we can all get behind.”   

“I’ve long said that you can’t have a big league economy with little league infrastructure, and these grants are integral to put Oregon in the fast-lane to meeting safety and sustainability goals for Hood River, Bend, Medford and beyond,” Senator Wyden said.

The City of Bend is being awarded $19,560,000 for construction of the new Hawthorne Avenue Crossing, a pedestrian and bicyclist crossing over US 97 (the Bend Parkway) and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad along Hawthorne Avenue.

While US 97 and the BNSF railroad serve important roles in the regional transport of goods and people, they also functionally serve as a barrier to community connectivity and leave few comfortable options for people who are walking or biking between the east and west sides of Bend.

The lack of safe, comfortable options in the heart of the city is currently hindering the mixed-use development needed to meet Bend’s critical housing and employment needs for the future. 

“I am absolutely thrilled that we have received RAISE Grant funding to help us complete the Hawthorne Overcrossing. This bridge is a critical community connection that will increase transportation safety and unlock the potential for more housing and economic development in our city’s core. I could not be more grateful for the support Senator Merkley has shown for this project. This is a huge win for Bend,” Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler said in Monday's announcement from the lawmakers.  

 Kebler told NewsChannel 21 Monday, "We've been working hard to get state and federal support for Hawthorne Overcrossing, with staff doing an excellent job on our federal grant apps. Really pleased to see this one come through! It may definitely move the timeline up -- stay tuned for more on that at our next council meeting."

The Port of Hood River was awarded $3,600,000 for the planning, preliminary engineering, and design for pedestrian and bicycle elements of a replacement bridge to be built across the Columbia River, connecting the cities of Hood River, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington. The existing bridge was built in 1924 and designed to the standards of that time. Among other shortcomings, the current bridge has just two narrow lanes and no permissible passage for pedestrian or bike traffic. A new bridge would provide a number of improvements, including bike and pedestrian access, wider vehicle lanes, and improved passage for river traffic on the Columbia. Stakeholders in both states have enjoyed recent momentum towards funding the replacement bridge, and this award follows a successful U.S. DOT Build Grant in 2020. 

“This is great news for the people of Hood River and another significant step in expanding the area’s transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure. The results will improve pedestrian safety and give people more choices about how they travel to and from Hood River and White Salmon.  The Biden-Harris Administration continues to make unprecedented investments into communities of all sizes and is leading the way to improve our nation’s clean transportation infrastructure,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. 

“Bike and pedestrian access across the new bridge is critical to our local communities,” said Port of Hood River Commissioner Mike Fox. “The project team is grateful for this award, which will help us realize our vision of a bridge that works for everybody.”

“The Hood River-White Salmon bridge is a symbol of the connectivity of our Gorge communities and the reliance we share upon each other,” said Hood River City Council Member Grant Polson. “This funding will open the new bridge to different types of users and enhance these shared bonds throughout our communities.”

Oregon Department of Transportation will be receiving $21,686,400 for redesigning a portion of Oregon 99 in Jackson County – between Medford and Phoenix, including Talent – with a complete streets approach; including improvements to the roadway, sidewalks, drainage, bike lanes, ADA ramps, continuous two-way left turn lane, and pedestrian beacons. This project will help to reduce barriers to opportunity by providing better connections for nearby residents to employment centers, essential services, and other key community facilities. In 2020, the designated portion of OR 99 was impacted by the Almeda Fire. Improvements along the route are intended to reduce risks for everyone travelling on this regionally-significant road, particularly in disasters. 

“This section of OR99 is in need of significant upgrades to better serve neighboring residents and the greater Rogue Valley,” said ODOT Director Kris Strickler. “This grant will help ODOT improve this key corridor — much of it ravaged by the 2020 Almeda Fire — by adding sidewalks, bike lanes, transit stops, and improving the overall safety for all users of the highway. Our thanks to Senator Merkley, Senator Wyden and the rest of our congressional delegation for supporting this grant application.” 

USDOT’s RAISE Grant program helps municipalities, Tribal governments, counties, and others complete critical freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects. These awards to Oregon are part of a $1.5 billion investment in America’s infrastructure through the RAISE grant program for 2023. 

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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