The Big Picture

Managing Growth

In the next 10 years, experts estimate that 50 percent more people will move here—that’s 50,000 more people using our already strained transportation system!  And to keep up with the growth, planners say we'll need to build 10,000 more homes in the next 10 years. 

These new homes mean we'll need major new road connections that keep traffic moving, AND safe walkable and bikeable streets. The City of Bend has convened a Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) that's providing input to the goals, strategies and tactics of Bend's new 10-year Transportation System Plan.  It’s a puzzle, and by connecting to CTAC you can stay informed and learn how to get involved.

Funding

The growth we expect will further strain Bend’s already challenged transportation system.  To keep up with the growth, new funding will be needed.  The City of Bend estimates needing about $280 million on new road, bike and pedestrian infrastructure to keep up with growth. Add to this the cost of building new and highly popular urban trails, plus expanding the transit system and it's clear that funding our transportation system is a major issue. 

Where will the money come from?

The City of Bend has convened a Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee, and it has a sub-committee focused on funding.  The Funding Work Group is reviewing options and making recommendations on how we can pay for the work that needs to be done.  The meetings are open to the public, where you can learn what's going on and even share your opinions with the group.

Street Maintenance

The City estimates that Bend faces a backlog of $91 million in repairs to streets, with a pavement condition index of 70 on a scale of 100. That's barely a "C". 

To improve our streets, the City has pulled funds from reserves, the general fund and other line-items to push cash into street maintenance and repairs. (A gas tax providing a permanent funding source failed in 2016.)  From 2015-2017, about $9.7 million was spent on street repairs causing the pavement condition index to tick up a few points. 

The Bend City Council continues to look for ways to fund street repairs and preservation, and over the last two years repairs have been made in every corner of the city.  The City's Street Maintenance and Operations Department is working on a wide range of improvements and activities throughout the year.

Tourism

Talk to tourism leaders and you'll hear the same refrain—Bend's lack of transportation options frustrates visitors. A Visit Bend survey showed that 91 percent of the roughly 3 million visits to Bend each year are done by car. Once here, all those folks struggle to get around without hopping in their vehicle and adding traffic to our already congested roads.  

Industry leaders say they lose business to cities with robust transit options that make travel easy for visitors. Park City, Utah, for instance, has bus routes that make it easy to drive to town, take the skis inside and never turn an ignition key until it's time to leave again.

But it's not just the mountain. Getting to the Old Mill, the restaurant, the spa—in Bend, our transportation system limits mobility for all of our visitors. 

Health

The quality of a transportation system is one of the most fundamental factors in the health of a community. Physical health. Mental health. Economic health. Successful transportation is the at the core of what makes a community and it's people thrive. 

In Bend, many residents face challenges that make good transportation options even more important.  Census data shows that 13 percent of Bend residents—about 12,000 people—live in poverty and owning and driving a vehicle can be a luxury. Over 5% of households do not have a car—that's 5,000 families. And as they age, our growing senior population may be forced or choose to stop driving. Census data shows that 6.6 percent, or more than 6,000 people, are living with a disability. 

To succeed, all these people need to be able to get to work, school, doctors appointments, the grocery store, social activities, and more. 

When it comes to physical health, active transportation options such as walking, biking, and taking the bus all have been shown to make significant improvements in weight loss, disease management and more. The U.S. Department of transportation has developed a Health Tool where you can learn about the heath impacts of different transportation modes.

St. Charles Health System's Community Engagement Department works to improve the health of Central Oregonians. Their Healthy Communities programs offer classes, recipes and events.  But we achieve a healthy community without a transportation system that offers safe and diverse choices leading to better health and wellness.

Environment

How do you measure the effects of transportation on the environment? Air quality. Climate change. Fossil fuel usage. Even land-use factors like housing density and sprawl play a role. And, in Oregon, we use something called VMT—that's shorthand for Vehicle Miles Traveled—to tie it all together. 

In Bend our annual VMT has increased dramatically in recent years—almost 100 million miles since 2013, according to State data. During our recent urban growth boundary expansion process, City officials showed how greater housing density, and walking, biking and transit improvements can help Bend reduce VMT. 

The Bend City Council has adopted a Community Climate Action Plan to guide both the city and the community in working together to achieve fossil fuels reduction goals.  And a Climate Action Steering Committee (CASC) is at work to support the development of the Bend Community Climate Action Plan. The CASC working group meetings are open to the public, tackling a wide range of energy conservation topics.

Innovation

A few years ago, driverless cars were science fiction. Now they’re being tested on city streets across the world.  Auto experts predict that 25 percent of all cars will be electric by 2025. And in the transit world, there’s so much going on it’s hard to keep up: bus rapid transit and services like Uber and micro-transit to provide “last mile” service from the bus stop to home are just a few.

The best cities in the world are finding ways to link all these innovations through smart technology that reduces congestion and costs, increasing quality of life for all.

Move Bend has worked with OSU Cascades, government agencies and private donors to build a new Bend Mobility Lab at the university.  A public-private partnership, the Lab is funded by the City of Bend, OSU Cascades, The Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization and St. Charles Health System.  Learn more about it at https://osucascades.edu/mobility-lab