Multimodality is a current buzzword when it comes to transportation planning, though it’s unlikely those who use the term ever thought it would reach the innovative heights it’s about to in Redmond.

The city’s Maple Avenue Bridge, which crosses Dry Canyon at the north end of the city, is about to become a climbing wall.

The bridge already is designed to handle cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. Soon it also will handle rock climbers, who will be able to use its support arches as climbing walls. The first of eight routes up the arches is expected to be completed this fall, says Ian Caldwell, a Redmond climber who came up with the plan.

It’s a nifty use for a piece of the bridge that seldom gets much attention. Moreover, it’s a nifty use that won’t cost the city anything. Caldwell, who works as a grant writer and community project manager for the state Department of Parks and Recreation, says the climbing elements, including hand- and footholds and hooks, will be paid for by members of the community, not the city itself.

The Maple Avenue Bridge is already something special. Built in 2007, it has won at least three national awards for its design, which includes space for pedestrian benches as well as sidewalks and bike paths. And while motorists may never see the three arches that hold the bridge up, climbers will have a unique view of those same arches.

The bridge climbing routes will never replace nearby Smith Rock. They will, though, offer a new place for climbers to test or hone their skills. Caldwell hopes they will persuade climbing tourists to spend more time in Redmond, as well.

Any city can have a bridge. Turning a bridge into a climbing wall says Redmond is not just any city.

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