Guest Column

Before the pandemic, before our awakening to our painful and important reconciliation with racial injustice, something extraordinary was happening in Bend.

The Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee was appointed by the Bend City Council to develop projects and policies informing a required planning document called the Transportation Systems Plan, or TSP.

A TSP is 20-year look at a city’s transportation priorities required by the state. However, considering Bend’s incredible trajectory of growth and overwhelmed transportation infrastructure, Bend wanted to do more than the minimum requirement. In particular, former Mayor Casey Roats wanted the TSP to have a realistic and achievable vision for a fundable and balanced transportation system. Development of this transportation plan was informed by over two years of meetings and workshops, papers and emails, reflecting continuous compromise and refinement.

Pending its adoption by council, this TSP is something to be excited about.

It considers forward-looking technologies in transportation management. It measures the ways congestion can be relieved by increasing connectivity, fixing bottleneck intersections, completing a bicycling and walking network and improving access to transit. It identifies innovative transportation hubs where options for walking/riding/ride share and transit begin as you leave your car behind. And it includes a program for year-round maintenance of roads, sidewalks and paths.

Alongside this robust list of projects, a variety of funding tools were vetted. A funding plan was adopted, including a proposed bond package to kick-start the most urgent projects. Please keep this transportation bond in mind as it will require a vote, possibly this November.

The final draft of the TSP will go before the Bend Planning Commission in late July, followed by public hearings before the City Council. If you’d like to listen in or participate, please visit bendoregon.gov/city-projects/transportation- system-plan to learn how.

The updated Transportation System Plan was a tremendous lift led by outstanding professionals at the city of Bend, as well as an all-star cast of consultants. Additionally, 23 citizens participated as Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee members. Each contributed professional wisdom, personal perspectives and their vision of a livable Bend. As the co-chairs of this effort, we want to publicly thank each of them for their hard work, passion and commitment to Bend.

People talk about government operating in a silo. Not in this instance. The TSP is a citizen-informed initiative that is responsive, defensible and right-sized for Bend.

It positions our community to address the impacts of growth with a values orientation and at a human scale. We can be proud of this plan.

Is it perfect? No. Is it ambitious? We believe so. Is it timely? Ask yourself as you drive around town this summer.

In Bend, we welcome newcomers as we would like to feel welcomed. Similarly, we welcome this moment of growth and change with a vision, leveraging our transportation challenges to advance our community overall.

We did this tough work together. We do things differently in Bend.

Ruth Williamson, Steven Hultberg, Mike Riley and Karna Gustafson served on Bend’s Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee.

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