The city of Bend was hardly secretive about its plans to close the Galveston Avenue bridge this month and next while it reworks the intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Tumalo Avenue. That said, it did fail to officially notify businesses along Galveston of the closure, which caught some by surprise.
To make matters worse for those living in the area, a new gas line is being laid on nearby Riverfront Avenue. Business suffered, and merchants complained at a recent City Council meeting.
Work at the intersection will improve traffic flow, officials believe, and make the area safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorists will be able to turn right off Riverside onto Tumalo, which becomes Galveston on the west side of the Deschutes, without stopping. In addition, the city will create a single intersection entrance for motorists from both Riverside and Tumalo. Bike lanes will be improved.
Meanwhile, however, merchants along Galveston must struggle with the additional burden of the closed bridge during what is already a slow season for them. Summer tourists are gone, and skiers and snowboarders have yet to arrive. Restaurants and breweries, among others, rely heavily on traffic across the bridge to fill their spaces, and without it they’ve been hurting.
On Friday, officials announced they’ve changed the intersection project enough to allow the bridge to reopen more than a month earlier, on Sept. 17.
Asphalt will be used to resurface the road, replacing the concrete the city had planned to use, and crews working on the project will put in longer days so they can wrap up early.
There is a price to be paid for at least one of the changes, unfortunately.
Concrete costs more initially, but it has a lifespan of 30 years or so. Asphalt is about $20,000 cheaper to apply, but it has only a 20-year life span and must be treated a couple of years in that time.
The confusion all could have been avoided, however, if a couple of things had happened. People could have made it a practice to browse the city’s website — one of several places where information about the project was available and easy to find in advance. And city officials could have expanded their horizons when it came to telling the neighbors what was up, including those west of the river.