#Project Underpass - Overview & Updates
About the Franklin Corridor
The Franklin Corridor is a key east-west connection between Downtown Bend and the Bend Central District with more than 5,000 people walking, biking, and using other mobility devices through it on a weekly basis. However, there is a lack of signage, lighting, and connectivity for people using these modes.
This key gateway to Downtown Bend has been so neglected that hotels advise their visitors to drive instead of walk the half mile, adding to traffic congestion and parking scarcity:
"Even though our hotel is only a few blocks from downtown Bend, we continually advise our guests not to walk there due to poor sidewalk conditions, high traffic speeds and the unpleasant tunnel at the Franklin Avenue underpass." Guest Column by Ashley Evert in the Bend Bulletin
That is why the BCD Initiative began engaging the community directly impacted by the Franklin Corridor in reimagining it as a safe, welcoming, and vibrant public space.
We partnered with local artist and BCD resident Kaycee Anseth to improve poor conditions for walking, biking, and using mobility devices through the Franklin Avenue Corridor, which is one of the only east-west connections in the center of Bend. After receiving permission from the BNSF railroad, Kaycee designed a mural for the North Pedestrian Railroad Tunnel at the Franklin Avenue Underpass.
Kaycee’s art reflects her own experience using the space as well as conversations she has had with parents, young students, frequent bicyclists and pedestrians, disabled persons, and the members of the houseless community. Community members have given consistent feedback about the need for light, visibility, and maintenance.
With Kaycee’s direction, the BCD Initiative joined the fight to highlight the Franklin Corridor’s potential and room for improvement through public art - the thought being that even if the area isn’t perfect, there is no reason why the 5,000+ pedestrians who travel through the area and houseless community who call the area home shouldn’t be able to enjoy an improved experience through the tunnel.
After obtaining permission from the BNSF Railroad (owners of the underpass) and with BCD Visionary Board members and volunteers in tow, the cleaning process of the pedestrian tunnel began in early June to prepare for the priming of the tunnel art installation titled #ProjectUnderpass. Kaycee, the BCD Initiative, and volunteers pooled resources to thoroughly clean the north pedestrian tunnel and the difference made in a few days was substantial.
Right before priming began and a few days before the #ProjectUnderpass pop up event, the City of Bend has put Kaycee's plans on hold because they considered the BNSF railroad tunnel to be in their right-of-way, and there is currently no program available to create murals in the right-of-way. Kaycee advocated for the art installation at the city council meeting as a means to ask the City to create a path forward to allow this community-minded artist to improve the pedestrian tunnel. At the time, no solution came of the meeting and in an effort to avoid fines and legal issues, #ProjectUnderpass was put on hold. That didn’t stop us from celebrating our vision for the area with the community on June 15th at the Pop Up event!