ODOT, in partnership with the Deschutes National Forest, is completing the planning and preliminary design for a paved multi-use path along the U.S. 97 corridor that connects the City of Bend with the Lava Lands Visitor Center. This path and several proposed alignments were included in the 2017 U.S. 97 Bend to Lava Butte Refinement Plan. The proposed path will be ADA-compliant and extend from Baker/Knott Road on the south end of Bend to Lava Butte Visitor Center.
ODOT is currently partnering with the Deschutes National Forest on the environmental assessment associated with the path and considering design alternatives. ODOT will work with property owners, stakeholder groups and the general public to collaborate on the planning, design and construction of the project.
Project goals include:
- Provide enhanced recreation opportunities that support alternative modes of transportation.
- Enable non-motorized travelers to safely access amenities associated with the Deschutes National Forest from the City of Bend and Sunriver.
- Increase the economic viability of the Sunriver and Bend communities by expanding the quality and variety of active, outdoor recreation amenities available in the region.
Baker/Knott Road intersection south of Bend to Lava Butte
Cost and Funding
This project was awarded planning, design and construction funds from the Federal Lands Access Program totaling $5.8 million.
This project will promote active transportation options with improved safety and access to trail networks close to communities is a goal of City of Bend, Sunriver, and Deschutes County. The path will provide connections between high use visitor attractions and recreation sites including the High Desert Museum, Lava Butte, Lava Lands Visitor Center, and the Deschutes River. The path would also connect to the Sun Lava Path which was completed in 2014. That path connects Sunriver to Lava Lands Visitor Center.
Additional benefits include:
- Removing vehicles from the roads
- Alleviating parking congestion
- Providing a trail experience for users of all abilities
What Problem Will This
The City of Bend and community of Sunriver are growing rapidly, increasing travel demands and environmental impacts on the Deschutes National Forest, Newberry National Volcanic Monument and surrounding area. Currently, there is no safe, accessible way for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between Bend and Lava Butte. In addition, the Sunriver community lacks pedestrian and bicycle connections to Bend and U.S. 97 corridors. This trail system would create new connections for bicyclists and pedestrians between these destinations.
The U.S. 97 corridor between Knott Road and the Lava Lands Visitor Center was specifically identified in the Deschutes National Forest Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study that was completed in 2015 for its potential to provide transportation options between high-use visitor destinations such as High Desert Museum, Lava Lands Visitor Center, and Lava Butte. That study was conducted with input from multiple stakeholders which included representatives from various organizations such as local governments, school districts, recreational groups, visitor associations, and other non-profits.
The corridor was further assessed in the U.S. 97 Bend to Lava Butte Refinement Plan completed in 2017. One goal of that plan was to determine if there is a desire and need for a multi-use path to parallel U.S. 97 and how it would connect to the larger active transportation network and trail system. The plan identified that a significant gap in the regional trail network exists in this area.
ODOT and the U. S. Forest Service completed an alternatives analysis for the U.S. 97 multi-use trail alignment in winter 2020. This process considered three alignments of the trail both on the west and east side of U.S. 97 to the north of the Deschutes National Forest and two alignments at Lava Butte near the Lava Lands Visitor Center. Criteria including disturbed area, private property impacts, user experience, accessibility, trailhead access and network connectivity were used to evaluate each of the potential trail alignments. Based on these design characteristics, an east alternative between Knott Road and the USFS boundary scored the highest. The East Alternative begins at Knott Road and runs on the east side of U.S. 97 within ODOT right of way to the High Desert Museum. The trail would then cross under U.S. 97 utilizing a pedestrian undercrossing and continue on a west side alignment to the Lava Lands Visitor Center. At Lava Butte, the trail alignment will go through the lava flow, creating unique experience for trail users within the National Monument.
ODOT is currently working through the NEPA process and anticipates starting active project design in Spring 2021. The Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest will conduct another public comment period regarding the preferred trail alignment in March 2021.