A new paved path, which will link Sunriver to the Lava Lands Visitor Center, is under construction south of Bend.
Construction on the 5.5-mile asphalt path started in late February and should be done by late September or early October, said Rex Holloway, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. ODOT partnered with the U.S. Forest Service on the project, which is intended to open up access to the visitor center to more than cars and trucks.
“So what it does is just provide more recreation and alternative ways for people to get around in that area,” Holloway said.
People on foot and on bicycles are among the target users for the paved path, which will have a spur going to the Benham East Day Use Area. The $1.85 million construction project is funded by the Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program and the ODOT Rail Safety Program, according to ODOT.
During the project, there will be periodic closures and detours, such as the closure of Benham Falls Road on Friday to allow for blasting. Holloway said ODOT plans to post updates about closures and detours on a webpage devoted to the project.
The construction also includes the installation of railroad crossing gates and lights at a crossing along Benham Falls Road, as well as directional signs along the route. Much of the new 10-foot-wide path, which incorporates some existing trails, parallels the road. Planning for the path, which will be about 18 miles south of Bend and connect to the northeast corner of Sunriver, started in 2009. The Forest Service finalized details for the path in 2013.
The goal of the project was to provide more access to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which the Lava Lands Visitor Center is a part of, by providing for more ways to get there “and not just by building more parking lots,” said Jean Nelson-Dean, spokeswoman for the Deschutes National Forest.
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