Installation of a footbridge spanning the Deschutes River at First Street Rapids Park began Thursday, and the bridge is expected to open in early June, said Pat Erwert, Bend Park & Recreation District services director.
“We were able to get it installed a day or two earlier than planned,” he said. “This installation plays a big part in making it so people don't have to go through residential areas or across busy streets.”
The bridge was lowered into place Thursday. Crews will now work on constructing the approaches.
Once complete, it will allow trail users on the east side of the river to link to the trail system on the west side.
“It's going to be a wide bridge, perfect for people coming from the north who are commuting to work,” Erwert said. “This is just one link of a lot of trail work that has been in the planning stages for many years.”
The project was planned before voters in November 2012 approved a $29 million bond intended for capital improvements to Bend parks.
The new footbridge is 10 feet wide and the main bridge section is 160 feet long, Erwert said. It is a “free-spanning” bridge, meaning it has no supports sunk into the riverbed. This creates fewer obstacles for boaters floating under the bridge. It also simplified the permitting process for building the bridge, Erwert said. The state permits crews to work in the river only a few times a year in order to preserve fish habitat.
Boaters floating beneath the bridge will have anywhere from eight to 10 feet of clearance, depending on the height of the water, Erwert said.
“We designed it so that there would be a minimum of seven feet clearance in very high water,” he said.
By adding this bridge, trail users on the west side near Revere Avenue will be able to cross the river to use the existing trail on the west side to cross Portland Avenue. At Portland Avenue, southbound trail users will cross the river once more.
“The trail will eventually go underneath the Newport Avenue bridge where we left room during construction for a trail to be installed,” Erwert said. “It will then connect to the trail through Drake Park heading south to the Galveston Avenue bridge.”