Now that the 11-foot segments of pipe have arrived and the excavation is well underway on a controversial Central Oregon Irrigation District piping development, project leaders are looking ahead to the next phase.
On Tuesday evening, the Bend Park & Recreation District board of directors will consider an agreement with the irrigation district to develop a trail crossing underneath Brookswood Boulevard, part of an as-yet-undeveloped walking and biking trail that runs alongside the soon-to-be buried former canal.
“We’re excited to work on this as we move forward,” said Craig Horrell, irrigation district manager. “It’s going to be great for the community.”
Plans for the undercrossing call for a 10-foot-wide path that will pass under Brookswood just north of Rock Bluff Lane. The park district expects the project to cost between $280,000 and $300,000, according to Laura Underhill, park planner and project manager for the district.
Since 2002, the park district and irrigation district have worked together under an intergovernmental agreement, and the districts have collaborated on a variety of projects, including a section of Larkspur Trail near the Pilot Butte Canal. The goal of adding a trail near a piping project, Horrell said, is to ensure that residents living in the area, many of whom have become accustomed to using the roads alongside the canals, still have an opportunity to walk, jog and bike in the area, even after the canal is buried.
Moreover, adding an underpass as part of the trail fits with the irrigation district’s needs while reducing the risk for cyclists and pedestrians, according to Underhill.
“We just think it’s a good opportunity to partner while they’re doing construction,” she said.
The crossing and associated trail will dovetail with the irrigation district’s $5 million effort to replace a 3,000-foot section of canal with underground pipe in southwest Bend, which broke ground last month.
The piping project — part of a larger effort by the district to pipe open-air canals and reduce water loss — was partially funded by a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
That prompted a federal review to ensure that the project didn’t significantly impact the environment, cultural resources, or animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Several neighbors expressed concerns about the review, noting that the project, while in compliance with federal guidelines, felt rushed.
As part of the planning process for the project, the district intended to plant native vegetation on top of the project area and work with the park district on a trail alongside it. Details on the trail itself remain scarce, though Underhill said it will likely be a paved, 10-foot-wide trail reminiscent of a similar project through nearby Blakely Park.
Plans for the trail will likely be solidified in the next couple of months, according to Underhill, but in the meantime, both entities saw an opportunity to make headway on the underpass.
Because contractors working on the piping project already have equipment in place, Horrell said, it makes sense to construct the underpass now. In addition to helping the workers move equipment back and forth across Brookswood more easily, Horrell said, it will prevent the district from needing to bring contractors back at a later date.
“It would have cost twice as much,” Horrell said.
Horrell added that an existing road running alongside the canal will be left in place until the project is complete and the trail is finished. The district expects both the piping and the crossing to be complete by April 1, the start of irrigation season.
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