BEND, OR -- Construction has begun on a pedestrian underpass on Cascade Lakes Highway, west of Bend.
Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says the undercrossing and adjoining trail are especially important for those with limited mobility. "The Forest Service and ODOT are really partners on this. We do partnership on many projects since there's a lot of forest land up here. And, it's a pleasure for us, actually, to work hand-in-hand on something like this project, because what it does, is it provides a way for travelers to get to other parts of the forest than they might ordinarily be able to get to."
The Forest Service will begin paving the three-mile trail October 11th and Murphy says it's all about making sure visitors can experience the natural areas easily. "Our specific role is to provide access under the highway, but it links up with other parts of the pathway that return back under the highway, or line up adjacent to the highway, so the transportation corridor that we have, now becomes multi-purpose. So, that's a good thing. It provides access for so many more people that we're happy to be part of it."
Marcum and Sons, a construction company, has been awarded $700,000 to complete the project.
Murphy says the project will allow people to safely cross the highway near Rimrock Trailhead. "This kind of undercrossing that we're putting in and the kind of path that the Forest Service is putting in, really extends the ability for people who have issues getting into the forest and to be able to get out into areas they wouldn't normally be able to experience. Right now, what we're trying to do, is punch a hole under the highway, and make it suitable for people to travel across the highway, without coming into conflict with motor vehicles."
Visitors to Rimrock Trailhead should be aware that it will be closed from October 4th through the 21st for construction, with the paving of the trail beginning October 11th, but the area and the underpass will be available for use this year.