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City of Bend plans to tear down Firerock Footbridge and staircase, may rebuild staircase amid neighbor criticism

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Firerock Footbridge over the Deschutes River and the adjoining staircase, located in the Rimrock Village East neighborhood, are scheduled to be demolished by the City of Bend late this summer. They're considered to be derelict and to no longer serve any purpose.

Project Engineer Jason Suhr said: “That bridge, with the intent of it, was to support the water lines. With it deemed obsolete, making the pipe underneath the bridge obsolete, we are going to be proceeding forward with the removal of the pipeline, as well as the bridge.”

The bridge and staircase were originally built by the neighborhood developer, R.C. Crum, back in the 1970s. The bridge and staircase were meant to support a 6-inch-diameter water line, supplying potable water to the Rimrock West neighborhood. 

Fast forward to 1992, when it was agreed the City of Bend would become owners of the footbridge; accepting liability for the structure, and the footbridge would remain in place and open for area residents. 

Some community members believe the city has reneged on its promise.

Resident Jarred Baker said, “Since 1992, when this was all put into place, the city has never maintained any piece of the bridge or the stairwell down to the area. Any boards that you could actually see that look a little bit more replaced were from local area residents that have actually done any upkeep on it.”

City engineers say the water line supported under the bridge deck has become critically damaged, and not suitable to be returned to service. The footbridge has been closed to the public since 2015 due to concerns regarding the structural integrity of the bridge.

“We did a condition assessment of the bridge and the staircase ,of which came back, that shows structural deficiencies and violations of code compliance," Suhr said. "And so from a health and safety perspective to the public, the city has closed off these structures to public access, and therefore we are proceeding forward with the removal of them to reduce that risk and liability associated with people potentially using and harming themselves with these structures.”

However, neighborhood resident Baker points out the importance to many of keeping the bridge and its staircase intact.

“As a local resident, this is an area that I frequent at least weekly, and it's something that we actually moved into the neighborhood for," he said. "Its amenity, that was part of our neighborhood. It provided a reason for us to come here.”

Even though the city plans to move forward with plans to tear down the footbridge, it's willing to make some concessions on the staircase. With a city staff review of past decisions underway, a planning commission hearing originally planned for Monday night has been delayed two weeks, until April 22nd.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Tracee Tuesday

Tracee Tuesday is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Tracee here.


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