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Bridging Bend: City asked to consider special footbridge spanning Hwy. 97, railroad tracks

Project could cost $35 million; advocates hope it can happen by mid-2025

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- If you're someone who struggles to get from the east side to west side of Bend on foot or on a bike, there is a proposal in place which just might make your life a little easier.

Todd Taylor, CEO of Taylor NW and one of the developers of the vision, presented concept drawings to city councilors Wednesday evening. Taylor said he and his partners asked themselves, "How could we do something completely different than what's been done before? Something that's more pedestrian and bike friendly?"

They came up with a vision they call Bridging Bend.

Right now, there are two main ways to move east and west through the center of Bend. That's the noisy corridor on Franklin Avenue and the busy one on Greenwood Avenue.

That kind of limited access can be a problem for people like cyclist Gordon Wetzel, who travels across town on a weekly basis, going to Juniper Fitness Center, visiting his mother-in-law on the east side, or as on Thursday, leaving the post office downtown.

“I wanted to get over the Third (Street), and I realized I couldn't, so I had to go over a couple of blocks,” Wetzel told NewsChannel 21.

There’s some good news for Wetzel, though.

The a group of multi-modal advocates in Bend want to bridge the divide -- literally. They want to build a footbridge on Hawthorne Avenue, helping Bend's Central District project come to life, spurring interest and investment in the area.

The east and west sides of town in that area have long been split by train tracks and Highway 97. If the Bridging Bend project comes to life, that would no longer be the case.

“Connectivity to those assets I think -- we think -- will certainly prevail, to a level that we've never seen before,” Taylor told city councilors.

Not only did Taylor and his team call this midtown crossing a crucial part of the Bend Central District vision, but they also said it could become a landmark for the city.

When NewsChannel 21 told Wetzel about the plan, he was on board.

“Anything that improves surface transportation for walkers and bikers makes it a more livable city,” he said.

The project is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $35 million. Even if a portion would be paid in part by voter-approved transportation bonds, urban renewal funds and the state, the city would still need to find $15 million in the budget.

Taylor and his team hope city councilors will endorse the plan by October. With plenty more work and details to flesh out, the goal would be to complete construction by June 2025.

Allison Platt, the city’s core area project manager, told NewsChannel 21 the main issues are funding, funding sources, and schedule impacts. She said they need to get a better understanding of what can be done to improve the existing crossings at Franklin and Greenwood avenues before they can make funding decisions about this project.

Author Profile Photo

Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

Comments

36 Comments

  1. Great idea, but $35 million is real money. And to help make it a reality, we are sure that the cyclist interviewed in the article and the other bicyclists would be more than willing to begin a bicycle registration fee of about $50 per year along with a toll fee of $1 per crossing until the city share is paid off to help make this happen. Interesting that this is being proposed by a CEO of a construction firm that has a way better than average chance of getting the construction bids. Just plan better than what was done with the ill-fated railroad bridge in southern Bend recently.

  2. $35 million to accommodate those too lazy to pedal down to Greenwood or Franklin. Is BNSF and ODOT on board with going over their facilities?

    How many cyclists and peds are expected to use this bridge? How will snow and ice be removed? Will it even be used year-round?

    Let’s make it a tolled bridge; $1 to cross, one way.

    This bike/ped bridge fiasco could make Juniper Ridge seem like a sensible use of public dollars. How about spending $35 million to expand Reed Market to four travel lanes and a bridge over the railroad tracks.

    1. Put the toll on the cars that clog up Franklin and Greenwood. Charge them by the minutes they spend getting in each other’s way as they sit on their lazy buts in their air conditioned heat causing giant cars. What a joke suggesting that people should pay a toll in order to not have to walk through a stinking loud underpass breathing your car fumes along with walking through fresh urine.

      1. Ahh, the classic whine of the self-entitled lycra nation. Build it all for me, but don’t expect any financial contributions. I can afford a $2K bike, but pay a minor toll?! Never!

        1. Show us how to cross the “parkway” in that vicinity on foot without walking through urine, or having to step over someone sleeping. I hope you’re very athletic if you demonstrate this for us. There have been plenty of pedestrian fatalities in that area.

  3. When this is done and you have to look at it and shake your fist every time you drive by, think of me, riding along up there laughing at you and ringing my bell.

  4. A complete waste of money. This country run’s on roads, not bikes. This money would be better spent on build a complete four lane road from the east to set side of Bend. Expand Reed Market or Greenwood/Newport Ave. Hell both of them need to be expanded. While we are at it 14th street needs to be expanded to 4 lanes as well, from Newport all the way up Century drive to 7th Mt resort if not all the way up to Mt B. Oh FYI I live on 14th and understand this will reduce my already small front yard even more, but it needs to be done.

  5. I’m shocked that the accessibility judgment against the city doesn’t require this as neither Franklin nor Greenwood are suitable for anything but cars or people that don’t mind walking in urine through a groping cage, pit, or tunnel. 2025 is not soon enough. The existing crossings are an embarrassment.

  6. The council knows the right thing to do here. There are no crossings that feel safe to walk through in that area for half of the population. Six of the council are likely from that half.

  7. Honestly, neither Franklin nor Greenwood are fun crossings. The ped tunnels are creepy and feel dangerous, riding on the street feels even more dangerous. Cars do like to speed and as you climb the grade to get back up to street level you’re not going real fast, annoying drivers behind. I don’t get the problem here: put it on the ballot, if the voters approve it, do it; otherwise, don’t.

  8. This would benefit thousands, and, with the Tax Increment Financing, it pays for itself (and then some). Good investment in your land always does. Cars are no longer the best use of land in the Heart of Bend. This land is for humans, and trees. I suspect the nay-sayers don’t get out and walk with their neighbors much. Maybe they would if we made it nicer to walk? Win. Win. Win.

  9. Pretty sure the Taylors don’t own most of these developable lots. (check DIAL). I participated in some neighborhood meetings, and it was a hodge-podge of owners and Bend-loving citizens who came together under a common vision for improving their neighborhood and creating more livable streets. There is no one developer, which makes this more challenging…

  10. It is obvious that a lot of commenters here never go anywhere except in their cars. It is not just cyclists who use the pedestrian under passes. If you have ever used them they are frequently inhabited by homeless people who often leave lots of litter. On foot or on a bike you are very vulnerable there. I have bike toured internationally like in dangerous slums in big cities in South America and those underpasses make me nervous every time I go through them. We pay plenty in taxes but I would not have a problem paying more for a project like that – a toll would be absurd. There are loads of pedestrian only bridges around the USA that are a typically a huge draw for all walks of life especially if they are parks nearby. People who never go anywhere not in a car might not appreciate them but lots of other people would. If you happen to believe in the global warming conspiracy anything you can do to get people to commute not in cars is worth evaluating. If we are going to have a toll for bikes then how about a hefty carbon tax on cars to be fair? But that would be off the table because it would be a communist government take over.

    1. I don’t even call those people humans anymore as most humans can walk. I call that new subspecies automotive operating systems if they’re unable to see a non automotive perspective. Walking doesn’t compute for them and they evolved in just the last century. They even put driving well above the second amendment as a right.

  11. See those buildings that do not yet exist where the bridge comes into the 2nd floor on the east side? guess who owns that land! That’s right Todd Taylor. Let’s build a taxpayer funded bridge that connects his property to downtown!

    1. He owns very little of that land. Not only that, the money would be made off the work in the buildings and not off the land and Taylor doesn’t need the money or work. My hunch is he’s on board because it’s a good idea. It would eliminate the need for another parking garage downtown as well as avert another accessibility lawsuit for the city. I’m all for Taylor helping to break through an obvious economic red line that was installed in the’90’s.

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