A pivotal point in the city’s urban evolution
Late last month, the City of Bend announced that it had been awarded nearly $25 million in state and federal funds for the planned Hawthorne Overcrossing, the pedestrian bridge designed to connect the east and west sides of Bend across Hwy 97. Far more than a routine transportation announcement, this development signifies a pivotal point in the city’s urban evolution.
Bend is partially shaped by the substantial divide between the east and west sides of town, with the parkway and the railroad crossing acting like a fence between neighbors. The result can often leave residents feeling like they’re inhabiting two separate cities. The Hawthorne Overcrossing aims to heal this divide and, in turn, fundamentally refashion the core of the city.
Current plans are for the bridge to begin at NW Hill St on the west side, span Hawthorne Avenue across the railroad and Parkway, and terminate at 2nd Street, creating a seamless corridor for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between downtown and the east side of the city.
The Hawthorne Overcrossing is part of the larger Midtown Crossings initiative, which will also include improvements to the two existing pedestrian crossings at Franklin and Greenwood. These developments would be good news even in isolation, but they are perfectly timed to coincide with the substantial influx of federal, state, and city funds that are being poured into the revitalization of the Bend Central District, which surrounds the eastern end of the bridge.
Envision the BCD as a dense, vibrant, mixed-use community similar to Portland’s Pearl District. The Catalyst, a planned public space hosting a food truck lot, farmer’s market, and performance venue – and the future home of the beloved Spoken Moto coffee shop, reopening this fall – will welcome pedestrians on the east end of the bridge.
The significance of a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly corridor linking downtown Bend to a burgeoning mixed-use district can’t be overstated. The resulting transformation will add a new dimension to the city’s core, which will now stretch from east to west with walkable, bustling communities at either end. Imagine enjoying a meal in downtown Bend and then taking a leisurely evening walk across the bridge to catch a live show in the BCD. Likewise, downtown will be just a short stroll away for BCD residents, reducing their reliance on cars.
This considerable investment in the Bend Central District is underscored by a commitment to livability. The focus is on enhanced walkability, beautification, and the construction of much-needed housing. Thanks to the Bend City Council’s recent vote to adopt a new development code that allows for dense building, more people will be able to live at the heart of the city and contribute to a vibrant, mixed-use community where residents live, work, and play.
As for the Hawthorne Overcrossing, there’s no set completion date yet. The next phase will involve engineers detailing aspects like the bridge’s span, width, and height. Stay tuned – the evolution of the heart of the city has just begun.